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Eleven small businesses tap into $1,000,000 in state matching grants to bolster Wisconsin innovation

MADISON – SBIR Advance’s latest round of funding is allowing 11 innovative small businesses to further their commercialization through SBIR match grants up to $75,000 for Phase I and $100,000 for Phase II.

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 17th round of SBIR Advance funding since this collaboration by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) and the Center for Technology Commercialization (CTC) began in 2014.

Over the past seven years, 122 awards totaling nearly $9.8 million have been distributed to innovative Wisconsin small businesses. Since receiving the grants, they have reported obtaining over $43 million in additional capital.

The Phase I recipients are:

  • AIQ Solutions, Inc. of Madison has developed a software technology platform that generates quantitative intelligence to deliver actionable intelligence that enhances the understanding of treatment response for complex diseases.
  • RPRD Diagnostics, LLC of Milwaukee specializes in providing innovative pharmacogenetics (PGx) solutions, including diagnostic, analysis and support services to clinicians, researchers and drug developers.
  • Scienss Biotechnology, LLC of Verona makes recombinant proteins for use as therapeutics in the livestock industry. Their current products are primarily focused on veterinary pharmaceuticals focused on improving reproduction in cattle.
  • VasoGnosis Inc. of Milwaukee is developing an AI-powered diagnostic and surgical planning software for brain aneurysms.

The Phase II recipients are:

  • Calimetrix, LLC of Madison manufactures and sells test objects (“phantoms”) for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). These phantoms enable users to monitor the accuracy of their MRI measurements in research and development, clinical trials and clinical quality assurance.
  • COnovate of Shorewood is commercializing a remarkable material called graphene monoxide—GmO, the world’s first solid form carbon monoxide at room temperature. The unique chemical structure of GmO enables greater lithium uptake needed for higher performing, safer and faster charging batteries.
  • GoDx of Madison is developing and commercializing low-cost, rapid diagnostics for infectious diseases. They have developed a paper strip test that can detect the bugs that cause diarrheal diseases from stool, which will help treat the second leading cause of death in children under age 5.
  • Imagen Energy, LLC of Mequon produces compact, low-cost and modular power converters. The application for these converters focuses primarily on stationary energy storage and electrical vehicle (EV) battery chargers.
  • OnLume of Madison develops technology that is redefining surgery by color-coding tissue to allow surgeons to delineate tissue function and type intraoperatively in real time.
  • Pyran of Madison uses renewable agricultural resources such as corn cobs and wood chips to make key ingredients for paints and coatings. Their technology enables replacement of petroleum-based ingredients at lower prices.
  • Voximetry, LLC of Madison is an early-stage healthtech software company specializing in commercialization of complex algorithms on high-speed Graphic Processing Units (GPUs). Currently focused on radiation transport science, Voximetry is advancing patient-specific treatment planning in advanced-stage cancer patients.

“This was an extremely competitive selection round and with eleven teams moving forward in the program. We are excited for the diverse group of Phase I teams, with grants from NIH, NSF, USDA and FDA, to go through our Lean Startup Class,” said Dr. Todd Strother, former SBIR Advance Program Manager.  “The Phase II teams selected for the program are further in their development with several of them making early sales. It should be an exciting and valuable group.”

This cohort of SBIR Advance awardees will see CTC Commercialization Consultant Brian Walsh take over as Program Manager, with Dr. Strother supervising.

“I’m excited to get to know these awardees at a deeper level and develop strong relationships with their teams,” said Walsh. “This is a milestone-driven program, and the companies have aggressive goals. In addition to our experienced CTC staff, we have lined up mentors, subject matter experts and leaders in the Wisconsin investor ecosystem to coach these companies, help them achieve their milestones and accelerate their paths to commercialization.”

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.

“Supporting innovation is one way to ensure our long-term economic well-being and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. SBIR Advance leverages highly competitive federal funding and provides Wisconsin’s advanced technology companies the business development resources needed to get to the next level,” said Aaron Hagar, Vice President of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at WEDC. “We are excited to provide these catalytic resources to help convert our world-class research into business growth and an even stronger economy.”

For more details on the SBIR Advance program, visit www.wisconsinctc.org/sbiradvance or e-mail . The next solicitation is expected to open in Fall 2021.

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 System’s CTC.

About Center for Technology Commercialization

The Center for Technology Commercialization is part of the University of Wisconsin System’s Institute for Business & 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 www.wisconsinctc.org; follow @WisconsinCTC on Twitter.

About 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 https://wedc.org; follow @WEDCNews on Twitter.

Ideadvance Seed Fund attracts diverse applications with expanded eligibility

Up to $220,000 in grants will be made available to 12 companies diverse in business stage, idea and ownership in the latest round of awards by the Ideadvance Seed Fund.