MADISON – Six small high-tech businesses in Wisconsin will receive up to $75,000 each to commercialize their innovations, thanks to the SBIR Advance program’s latest round of funding.

The state matching grant program provides assistance to companies in the process of completing a project in the federal Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) or Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. This is the ninth round of SBIR Advance funding since this collaboration by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) and the University of Wisconsin-Extension’s Center for Technology Commercialization (CTC) began in 2014.

Since then, 56 awards have been given, equaling $4.15 million throughout the state. Those businesses reported hiring more than 173 employees and obtaining $16.5 million in additional capital since receiving the grants.

The recipients:

  • GoDx, Inc of Madison, in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health (NIH), is relentlessly developing a paper-based test to detect the specific bugs that cause diarrheal diseases;
  • Stem Pharm of Fitchburg offers unique biomaterials for cell and tissue manufacturing. Applications include medical devices for drug discovery, cell therapy and regenerative medicine;
  • Microscopy Innovations, LLC of Marshfield is a life science tools company founded in 2007 to create novel products for microscopy laboratories;
  • Imagen Energy of Milwaukee provides advanced technology to reduce the size and cost of energy storage systems;
  • Photonic Cleaning Technologies of Platteville is the creator of First Contact Polymer, a one part product specifically formulated to safely clean precision optical surfaces with minimal surface adhesion while leaving zero residue; and
  • Proteovista, LLC of Madison develops next generation microarray technology and applications for basic research and drug discovery.

The U.S. government created SBIR/STTR programs to stimulate domestic high-tech innovation, providing $2.5 billion in federal research funding each year. Because those funds cannot be used for commercialization activities, the SBIR Advance program fills the gap. Funds can be used to pursue market research, customer validation, intellectual property work or other areas that speed commercialization.

SBIR Advance grant recipients receive CTC staff support available throughout the commercialization process, including Lean Startup training, business plan review and other consulting.

“We recognized that a small company is much more than just the technology and that they need to validate their key business assumptions.” said Dr. Todd Strother, Program Manager. “The SBIR Advance grant provides them with resources to do these activities so that the company can build and commercialize a product that customers actually want.”

For more details on the SBIR Advance program, visit or contact Strother at

“Companies selected for SBIR Advance receive benefits well beyond the financial award,” said Aaron Hagar, vice president of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at WEDC. “The expertise provided by CTC staff and connections to other resources work in concert with the financing to guide and accelerate these companies through the next stages of their development.”

SBIR Advance is part of a Start-Seed-Scale (S3) initiative WEDC is pursuing with the help of the UW System and other business leaders throughout the state to remove barriers to high-tech commercialization. Under the S3 umbrella, WEDC and its economic development partners are implementing financial and operational assistance programs designed specifically to address Wisconsin’s business startup and seed-funding challenges. Another S3 collaborative effort between WEDC and the UW System is the Ideadvance Seed Fund, also managed by UW-Extension’s CTC. Selected SBIR Advance participants undergo Ideadvance Lean Startup training that is modified to assist with their SBIR Phase II applications.


About The Center for Technology Commercialization

The Center for Technology Commercialization is a unit in the University of Wisconsin-Extension’s Division for Business and Entrepreneurship. CTC provides one-on-one expert consulting to early-stage emerging technology businesses throughout Wisconsin. CTC has collaborated in acquiring more than $100 million in federal and other funding for clients. Learn more at; follow @WisconsinCTC on Twitter.

About The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) leads economic development efforts for the state by advancing and maximizing opportunities in Wisconsin for businesses, communities and people to thrive in a globally competitive environment. Working with more than 600 regional and local partners, WEDC develops and delivers solutions representative of a highly responsive and coordinated economic development network. Learn more at; follow @InWisconsin on Twitter.