$875,000 in state matching grants advance 10 high-tech small businesses

MADISON – Ten small businesses in Wisconsin will receive matching grants to commercialize their innovations, thanks to the SBIR Advance program’s latest round of funding. Five businesses, selected for Phase I, will receive up to $75,000 each, and five Phase II businesses 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 13th 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 2014, 88 awards have been given, equaling nearly $6.7 million throughout the state. Those businesses reported hiring more than 180 employees and obtaining over $29.5 million in additional capital since receiving the grants.

Phase I recipients:

  • Onexio Biosystems of Madison develops cell culture microplates and assays that support cell-to-cell communications for the drug development and toxicity testing markets;
  • Protein Foundry, LLC of Milwaukee manufactures proteins for use in biomedical research and preclinical drug development. Their mission is to provide the highest quality recombinant proteins in terms of chemical purity, structural homogeneity and functional potency;
  • Pyran, LLC of Madison manufactures 1,5-pentanediol (1,5-PDO), a key chemical used to make paints and plastics. Pyran’s patented process uses renewable wood and crop waste resources to make 1,5-PDO at less than 50 percent of the costs of competing oil-based processes;
  • Stem Pharm of Fitchburg offers unique biomaterials for cell and tissue manufacturing. Applications include medical devices for drug discovery, cell therapy and regenerative medicine; and
  • Universal Real Time Power Conversion, LLC of New Berlin is developing a multi-functional power conversion solution with high frequency and bandwidth to support power hardware in loop simulation and to achieve compact low-cost energy-efficient power systems in aircraft/shipboard/micro grid applications.

Phase II recipients:

  • Flexcompute of Madison. Provides high-throughput, high-performance computing software solutions in computer-aided engineering;
  • Imagen Energy of Milwaukee provides advanced technology to reduce the size and cost of energy storage systems;
  • NCD Technologies of Madison specializes in engineering and optimizing new diamond and diamond-like carbon (DLC) coatings for improving new applications across many industries, including medical device, aerospace, defense and oil/gas;
  • PhylloTech, Inc. of Middleton is an agricultural biotechnology company that has created a method of advanced protein and antibody manufacturing in plants by engineering leaf structures, called glandular secreting trichomes, to produce, purify, and deliver target proteins directly to leaf surfaces for easy and economical harvests; and
  • V-Glass of Pewaukee, which is developing low-cost, high-efficiency window glass.

“SBIR Advance is an important tool to help young technology-focused businesses move from the pure research phase into business development, sales, and growth,” said Aaron Hagar, Vice President of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at WEDC, the state’s lead economic development organization. “Wisconsin is one of the top states for companies securing SBIR funding, and we are excited to provide this needed assistance to capitalize on the federal dollars coming into the 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 continues to be an integral part of success for our Wisconsin companies. Our programming for Phase I companies allows them to better prepare a Phase II application, and our winning Phase II companies are able to address critical business issues that lead them to earlier commercialization. We are seeing this being recognized at the national level, where Wisconsin is highly ranked in SBIR grant success,” said Dr. Todd Strother, Program Manager.

For more details on the SBIR Advance program, visit or e-mail . The next solicitation is expected in late summer.

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 @WEDCNews on Twitter.