Ten small businesses in Wisconsin will receive up to $850,000 to commercialize their innovations, thanks to the SBIR Advance program’s latest round of funding.

Funded by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation WEDC, 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 21st 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 nine years, 157 awards totaling nearly $13 million have been awarded. Those businesses reported obtaining $64 million in follow on funding since receiving the SBIR Advance matching grants.

The Phase 1 recipients, each receiving up to $75,000 match, are:

  • Cellular Logistics, Inc. of Sun Prairie is driven by its mission to improve the lives of people who suffer from heart disease. Their patented platform technology, Cardiac Fibroblast Biomatrix (iCFX™), is a unique, natural, biomaterial that has been shown to revitalize damaged heart and vascular tissue.
  • Estrigenix Therapeutics, Inc. of Wauwatosa is a pre-clinical, pharmaceutical development company pioneering therapies to improve women’s health. They are focused on a drug to address hot flashes and memory dysfunction in menopausal women, but without the risk for breast cancer which is associated with estrogen replacement therapy.
  • Function Therapeutics, Inc. of Milwaukee is developing a new class of anti-inflammatory drugs for kidney disease and other disorders.
  • ImgGyd, LLC of Middleton creates hardware and software solutions for image guided neurosurgery.
  • Navigationis, Inc. of Waunakee which supplies the aerospace and defense sectors with innovative instrumentation providing resilient position, navigation and timing services.
  • Water Intelligence, LLC. of Milwaukee is developing a camera-based sensor utilizing computer vision and artificial intelligence to measure the flow rate of water in sanitary sewer collection pipes.

The Phase 2 recipients, each receiving up to $100,000 match, are:

  • Adam Aerospace Corp. of Milwaukee creates next generation cyber/data security software using its core blockchain technology offerings. They concentrate on applications for aerospace, defense and critical infrastructure.
  • AIQ Solutions, Inc. of Madison is developing software products to assess and predict whole-body treatment response, which will enable oncologists to better tailor treatment regimens, make more confident decisions and improve outcomes.
  • Fiberstar, Inc. of River Falls manufactures and sells natural and clean, plant-based ingredient solutions to improve quality, health and costs in food, personal care and industrial markets.
  • Stem Pharm of Madison is a neurological drug discovery platform company that partners with biopharmaceutical companies to apply its proprietary 3D human neuro-immune organoids and biomaterials to the discovery and validation of new neurological disease targets and therapeutics. 

“With a thriving tech and bio-tech sector, Wisconsin continues to build on its global reputation for innovation,” said Missy Hughes, secretary and CEO of WEDC. “The SBIR Advance program helps promising young companies, such as the ones receiving these grants, make the leap from exciting discoveries to profitable industries.”

“We were fortunate enough to fund six Phase I teams and four Phase II teams for our most recent round of SBIR Advance,” said Todd Strother, Program Manager. “These Wisconsin state matching grants are awarded to companies that have successfully obtained federal SBIR funds. We have NIH, USDA and NSF winners, but we are especially excited to see two Department of Defense awardees this round. We’ve made a concerted effort to focus on DoD projects and we are pleased to see more of these awardees in the state. New to our Phase I Lean Startup programing is the addition of Innovation Within as the training group responsible for running the program. This group is involved in running some of the national I-Corp programs and we are looking forward to the training being provided to our Phase I teams.”

The U.S. government created SBIR/STTR programs to stimulate domestic high-tech innovation, budgeting $4.32 billion in federal research funding in 2022. 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.

For more details on the SBIR Advance program, visit www.wisconsinctc.org/sbiradvance or e-mail [email protected]. The next solicitation is expected to open in late November.

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.