State matching grants to elevate five small businesses

MADISON – Five 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 . This is the 11th round of SBIR Advance funding since this collaboration by the and the began in 2014.

Since then, 70 awards have been given, adding up to a little more than $5 million throughout the state. Those businesses reported hiring more than 173 employees and obtaining $22 million in additional capital since receiving the grants.

The recipients:

  • AquaMetals of Wauwatosa, which is developing the first practical, on-line, heavy-metal analyzer for industrial process control;
  • of Madison, which develops new innovations within a wide array of application areas, including infectious disease diagnostics, drug discovery and cancer biomarker development;
  • of Madison, which develops technologies to help wastewater treatment plants create valuable fertilizers from the nutrients in their wastewater;
  • of Platteville, which manufactures a one-part product specifically formulated to safely clean precision optical and aerospace surfaces with minimal surface adhesion and zero residue; and
  • of Pewaukee, which is developing affordable vacuum-insulated window glass.

“SBIR Advance plays a vital role in bridging the gap between laboratory research and a market-ready product,” said Chris Schiffner, WEDC Senior Technology Investment Manager. “This program is crucial to creating an environment in our state that welcomes new business development and attracts global investors. We want to encourage entrepreneurs to not only start their businesses in Wisconsin but to stay in Wisconsin because high-tech startup companies create family-supporting jobs.”

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.

“SBIR Advance continues to provide winners with needed customer validation and opportunities to solve business needs. It’s unique in the nation and has garnered recognition throughout the country,” said Dr. Todd Strother, Program Manager.

For more details on the SBIR Advance program, visit or e-mail . Solicitation is now open, with applications due in August.

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 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 on Twitter.