$625,000 in state matching grants advance 8 high-tech small businesses

MADISON – Eight innovative small businesses in Wisconsin will receive matching grants to commercialize their innovations, thanks to the SBIR Advance program’s latest round of funding. Seven businesses, selected for Phase I, will receive up to $75,000 each, and one Phase II business will receive up to $100,000.

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 12th round of SBIR Advance funding since this collaboration by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) and the University of Wisconsin System Administration’s Center for Technology Commercialization (CTC) began in 2014.

Since then, 78 awards have been given, equaling nearly $6 million throughout the state. Those businesses reported hiring more than 175 employees and obtaining over $24 million in additional capital since receiving the grants.

Phase I recipients:

  • Calimetrix, LCC of Madison is dedicated to the development of advanced quantitative MRI test objects (“phantoms”) that meet the needs of the MR clinical and research community. Their mission is to build phantoms that facilitate clinical trials, quality assurance, and the development and testing of new quantitative imaging biomarkers;
  • Comprex, LLC of DePere specializes in the design, engineering and manufacture of compact heat exchangers and heat exchange reactors targeted for high temperature and pressure applications such as Brayton-cycle supercritical CO2 power systems, treatment and recycling of fracking wastewater and process intensification for energy and chemical markets;
  • CyteGen of Wauwatosa develops and commercializes innovative biologic therapies against mitochondrial and neurodegenerative diseases. A massive unmet medical need exists for patients afflicted with these diseases;
  • DataChat Inc. of Madison is building an advanced AI+data technology so that everyday business users can get meaningful insights from data by simply holding a conversation in English with the platform. DataChat democratizes the power of data and AI to everyone, including and especially to those who are not majors in statistics, math or computer science;
  • NanoAffix Science, LLC of Wauwatosa has been devoted to developing various nanotechnology-based electronic sensors since 2009. NanoAffix is currently working to empower citizens with a low-cost, easy-to-use handheld tester for rapid testing of lead in tap water;
  • SafeLi, LLC of Shorewood aims to help power the wireless world while making it a safer place for users of lithium ion batteries. SafeLi’s novel, patented material, Graphene Monoxide, has the potential to disrupt the lithium battery market by doubling the lifetime of these batteries and charging them six times faster; and
  • Voximetry, LLC of Middleton is an early-stage healthcare technology company that specializes in commercializing improvements related to nuclear medicine dosimetry. The patient-specific approach can accurately predict efficacy and adverse effects of radiopharmaceutical therapy.

Phase II recipient:

  • Microscopy Innovations, LLC of Marshfield  provides sample preparation technologies used in microscopy laboratories for clinical pathology, drug development and basic research. Their mPrep™ System has improved workflows for specimens from Ebola virus to renal biopsies.

“SBIR Advance will play a vital role in enabling these eight businesses – and others like them in future rounds of funding – to take the next important steps toward commercialization for their innovations,” said Aaron Hagar, WEDC Vice President of Entrepreneurship and Innovation. “This program serves to bridge that gap between laboratory research and a market-ready product, which is crucial to creating an environment that welcomes new business development and attracts global investors to our state.”

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 has allowed companies to validate their business hypothesis that can lead to their ultimate success. As one of the few states that provide this assistance, we have garnered interest not only from other states but also from outside companies who are interested in moving to Wisconsin because of this program,” stated Dr. Todd Strother, Program Manager.

For more details on the SBIR Advance program, visit or e-mail . The next solicitation opens in January.

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 Administration’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 System Administration’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; 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.


High-tech small businesses: Apply for 21st round of SBIR Advance funding

The Center for Technology Commercialization (CTC) is offering a matching grant of up to $100,000 to provide additional 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.