SBIR/STTR Phase III Success Stories

DOE provides nearly $300M annually to SBIR/STTR awardees in two (2) releases funding ~400 Phase I awards and ~160 Phase II awards. It is the expectation of Congress that technology developed using these designated taxpayer funds result in some form of public benefit whether it be in the form of taxable revenue, jobs or some other societal or scientific benefit.

Success stories are written to highlight small businesses that have successfully transitioned their SBIR/STTR funded technology to Phase III. Phase III refers to work that derives from, extends, or completes an effort made under prior SBIR/STTR Funding agreements, but is funded by sources other than the SBIR/STTR programs. Phase III work is typically oriented towards commercialization of SBIR/STTR research or technology, including through further research and development work. Learn more about Phase III by watching this DOE workshop recording on Navigating Phase III Contracting from September 2023.

Have a success story to share?  Contact Carol Rabke or Dave McCarthy.

2022 SBIR/STTR Small Business of the Year

Each year DOE’s Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) asks the program offices to send in nominations for the SBIR/STTR Small Business of the Year. The award recognizes a U.S. small business that exemplifies the spirit of DOE’s SBIR/STTR programs by strengthening and expanding its high-technology research and development (R&D) competitiveness within DOE and/or the private sector. Competitively vetted with many worthy nominees, the awardee is to excel at one or more of the following criteria:

  • Stimulating U.S. technological innovation and enhancing the nation’s return on its DOE SBIR/STTR investment.
  • Providing the DOE and/or its national laboratories, research facilities, or university research partners the benefits of commercial applications derived from DOE SBIR/STTR funded R&D.
  • Stimulating U.S. economic growth and/or increasing private-sector commercialization of innovations as a result or in part of DOE SBIR/STTR funded R&D.

Congratulations to Tiptek LLC, the 2022 OSDBU selection! Check back for an accompanying success story soon.

Stars Align for FPoliSolutions’ Success

FPoliSolutions, LLC

Program Office(s): Office of Nuclear Energy

After the company’s launch as a founder-driven, consulting startup in 2013, FPoliSolutions, LLC’s (FPoli) initial DOE SBIR grant was awarded in 2016. FPoli’s CEO, Cesare Frepoli, reminisces that “our passion was to create kind of a dream team so that we could go back to the drawing board and do things in a more modern, efficient way.” And that is exactly what the SBIR grant started for FPoli and for the nuclear reactor design market.

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One Company – Two DOE Funded Technologies that Impact Climate Change on Multiple Fronts: Plastics, Personal Care Products, and Lubricants


Program Office(s): Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) and Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) within EERE, Basic Energy Science (BES)

Utilizing DOE SBIR funding, RiKarbon has developed technologies for cost competitive renewable products that use non-conventional and waste feedstocks to serve the domestic and international specialty and performance chemicals market. RiKarbon products improve U.S. energy security and sustainability.

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BioSqueeze, Inc.: Sealed Well

BioSqueeze, Inc.

Program Office(s): Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management

With initial SBIR-STTR grant support from Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management, BioSqueeze Inc. is commercializing biomineralization technologies to make well boring cleaner, safer and more productive.  BioSqueeze is now raising follow on funding, increasing headcount, expanding into an international business.

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DOE SBIR Technologies Yield Improved Lasers, Better Targets and Better Physics

Raytum Photonics

Program Office(s): Nuclear Physics (NP)

Raytum Photonics develops and sells innovative, customized, state-of-the-art laser and electro-optic solutions and high-reliability-electronics as well as high-quality engineering services for scientific and military customers. All told, Raytum’s laser innovations have already increased target performance at Jefferson Laboratory by more than a factor of five.

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Nanostructured Dielectric Materials Commercialized through Electric Vehicle Spinoff

Sigma Technologies, International

Program Office(s): Office of Electricity (OE)

Utilizing funding from the Office of Electricity (OE) for the development of high voltage capacitors for DC-Link applications, Sigma Technologies found commercial application for the technology in the electric vehicle market, spinning off the technology to form PolyCharge America Inc. to manufacture capacitors for electric drive inverters.

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Drone-based Platform Provides Safe and Efficient Utility Line Inspections


Program Office(s): Office of Electricity (OE)

Climate events are a continuous threat to the Nation’s electric infrastructure. Within the Department of Energy (DOE), the Office of Electricity (OE) provides national leadership to ensure that the energy delivery system is secured, resilient, and reliable. In 2017, OE issued an SBIR topic that focused on the application of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) and sensing technology for rapid response inspections of the electric grid after climate disasters. Brains4Drones, a woman-owned small business, proposed equipping drones with AI to keep utility first responders safe and productive.

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User Friendly, Durable, Inexpensive Air Quality Measurement Instruments

Program Office(s): Office of Biological and Environmental Research (BER)

The company was not founded by Fred Brechtel Jr. nor was it originally delivering instrumentation for measuring nanoparticles that control cloud formation.  However, when Fred became part of the Brechtel team in 2002, his goal was “to shift the paradigm; to take climate change and air quality measurements from sophisticated and expensive to user friendly, durable and inexpensive.” Originally founded in 1983 by his father in a Silicon Valley garage, the family business was passed to Fred in 2012. Over the last 10 years, the company has evolved and expanded to employ a staff of 18 and annual revenues of nearly $6M.  A key part of the team’s success has been sustaining a spectrum of in-house manufacturing capabilities critical to fabricating items for products. These capabilities remain important even today.

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U.S. Energy Plants Fend Off Hackers with Low-Cost Cybersecurity Device

Program Office(s): Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO)

With more solar energy and other high-value assets going onto the electric grid, protecting the nation’s power system is a priority for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).  So, when Fend Incorporated’s CEO, Colin Dunn, wanted to domestically develop and manufacture a device that protects large-scale photovoltaic (PV) control systems from hacks, DOE awarded Fend $1.2 million in SBIR awards.  As Dunn puts it: “I saw the need from an infrastructure perspective to improve energy efficiency and resilience. To do that, a lot of folks were turning to the cloud.  We brought the ability to meet legacy equipment where it is by providing an innovative way to bring those systems online in a secure way.”

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High-Purity Germanium Detectors for the Highest Resolution (Specificity), Detection and Identification of Gamma Rays

Program Office(s): Office of Nuclear Physics (NP)

Germanium detectors are fragile, expensive, and complicated to make and use.  However, the isotope identification results are worth the required effort: the detectors yield information that is extremely important to nuclear physicists for their research and for nuclear security missions.  Germanium gamma ray detectors are also important to law enforcement, national security personnel, first responders and nuclear waste-management personnel in the identification of nuclear materials.  The information from a germanium detector is the final word confirming the presence of fissile materials that may be used in the construction of nuclear weapons.  Gamma ray signatures coming from the nuclei of the uranium and plutonium atoms can't be faked.

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Microwave Thermionic Electron Gun for Synchrotron Light Sources


Program Office(s): Office of Basic Energy Sciences (BES)

The Advanced Photon Source (APS) operated by Argonne National Laboratory (Argonne) provides high brightness x-ray beams to over 5,000 researchers each year enabling scientific discoveries in materials science, biological and life sciences, earth science, chemistry, environmental science, physics, and polymers. The Office of Basic Energy Sciences (BES), within DOE’s Office of Science, is responsible for current and future synchrotron radiation light sources. In 2017, BES issued a topic specifically focused on the development of robust microwave thermionic guns to enhance light source user facilities and enable future upgrades. Partnering with scientists at Argonne’s APS facility, RadiaBeam responded with a proposal to develop an RF gun to solve urgent reliability, control, and performance issues with the existing RF guns. Issues that threatened to suspend APS operations.

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Turning CO2 emissions into valuable chemicals: a key step towards a net-zero carbon economy.


Program(s): Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE)

For the industrial sector to embrace low-carbon business models, the nation needs innovative, cost-competitive carbon-removal technologies. With help from DOE SBIR as well as private investment and other government grants, OPUS 12, a Berkeley-based startup is playing a major role in this incredible challenge. If implemented on large scale, Opus 12 core invention holds the promise to address nearly 10% of global carbon emission by recycling industry carbon dioxide emission into valuable chemicals and fuels. In this way, while reducing the carbon footprint of the world’s heaviest emitters, the company creates a new revenue stream from what is discarded today as a waste product.

July 2021 Update! Twelve (formerly Opus12) secures $57 million in funding

August 2022 update! Closed $130 million in Series B to scale the engineering, manufacturing, and deployment of its industrial-scale carbon transformation technology

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Network solutions powered by machine learning create a self-healing internet.

Program(s): Advanced Scientific Computing Research (ASCR)

COVID-19 has elevated internet connectivity to an essential resource. All aspects of life from education to commerce are taking place in cyberspace. Network connectivity failures can cause costly disruptions. With support from the DOE SBIR program, California-based startup Clostra, Inc. has developed Keymaker, a data analytics platform powered by machine learning. Keymaker’s neural network is trained to identify network anomalies more quickly and effectively than other network analytics solutions. When it comes to keeping a network running at top performance, Keymaker outclasses existing platforms by simultaneously learning from existing network data, monitoring current network traffic, and keeping operators informed about significant changes to network behavior.

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MDI’s gravity defying technology is key to explore materials in extreme conditions.

Program(s): Basic Energy Sciences (BES).

Many materials are processed in the liquid state to produce a variety of structures and properties, including high performance optical and laser glasses, defect-free single crystals for the semiconductor industry, nanocomposite alloys for lighter weight and improved strength, and amorphous pharmaceuticals. Understanding the short-lived metastable states formed in liquids, particularly at high temperature, is critical for producing desired properties in energy conversion materials, or to model the behavior of nuclear fuels to optimize safety. However, the study of materials in extreme conditions is hampered by the container. A perfectly inert container does not exist in nature; therefore, sample interaction with the hot container’s walls often sabotages experiments by introducing contamination and other spurious effects. Materials Development, Inc. (MDI) has a solution to the container problem that is brilliant and technically complex at the same time: eliminating the container!

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Changing the paradigm of radiation detection with 3D position sensitive gamma-ray cameras.


Program(s): Nuclear Energy (NE).

Technological progress is often linked to the discovery of a new, advanced material with intrinsically higher performance. However, the new material, typically a complex compound, is often challenging to grow with the chemical purity and/or microstructure needed to be molded into a marketable product. Overcoming these materials science issues requires fundamental scientific understanding and innovative engineering. For applications involving gamma ray detection, the “new material” is the wide band gap semiconductor cadmium zinc telluride (CdZnTe or CZT), exhibiting performance similar to the gold standard of Higher Purity Germanium (HPGe) while operating at room temperature (RT).

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IDES’ breakthrough in TEM video acquisition of nanoscale materials processes leads to the company’s acquisition by microscopy giant JEOL.


Program(s): Basic Energy Sciences (BES).

The latest advances in nanotechnology, including electronic and energy storage devices, have emphasized the need to add a temporal dimension to transmission electron microscopy (TEM) to follow atomic motion in materials, in real time and far from equilibrium. Being able to image materials with a time resolution of picoseconds to microseconds can reveal the inner workings of key processes for energy and biology applications. Examples are pulsed-laser sintering of nanoparticles for additive manufacturing, chemical reactions and structural changes at battery electrode interfaces, and studies of protein movement in biology. Integrated Dynamic Electron Solutions, Inc. (IDES) is commercializing technologies that allow TEMs to capture images at ultrafast time scales, driving technological and scientific progress across a host of markets and disciplines.

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MWI’s R&D enables competitive manufacturing of a new, metal-based membrane platform developed entirely through Federally-funded research.


Program(s): Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO); Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy (EERE).

Synthetic membranes are a well-known technology with wide applications in air and water filtration, and molecular separations in industrial plants. Although the current market is served by several experienced companies, Molecule Works Inc. (MWI), a startup based in Washington State, is commercializing an innovative line of membrane products, which offer higher performance than conventional polymer- and ceramic-based membranes. MWI membranes are based on the fundamental inventions and understandings that were obtained at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) through scientific research that started in 2008, and on subsequent critical scale-up developments in MWI’s pilot-scale facilities that have enabled manufacturing at competitive prices.

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Laser-cooled atoms enable distributed quantum computing via the global telecom fiber network.


Program(s): Advanced Scientific Computing Research (ASCR).

Only a decade ago, quantum computing was an exotic topic solely reserved to a small group of specialized scientists. Today, quantum computing has gained the public interest, and many Venture Capital (VC) firms have started investing in quantum-technology companies, including several spinouts from universities. The excitement is linked to the potential of large quantum computers to solve certain problems exponentially faster than any of our current classical computers. This ability would provide a solution to the foreseen slowdown of Moore’s law and consequent scaling of classical computing performance.

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From the physics of pulsed laser ablation to the marketplace, Applied Spectra’s instruments are leading a paradigm change for chemical analysis.

Applied Spectra 

Program(s): Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), Environmental Management (EM), Biological and Environmental Research (BER), Fossil Energy (FE).

Every time a solid material, whether originating from research, industry, or nuclear activity needs to be disposed of, it is first chemically analyzed to determine its elemental composition. This is typically done using Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS), which requires macroscopic samples to be extracted and liquefied by “digestion” in strong and hot acids. This process, which is the standard for industry, research and environmental cleanup efforts produces significant quantities of liquid substances that are themselves hazardous waste. During his career as a scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), Dr. Rick Russo laid the foundations and subsequent development of a paradigm change for chemical analysis—a technology that can now be purchased in the form of analytical instruments sold by Applied Spectra.

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Enabling efficient and scalable access to shared solar power without installing solar panels.


Program(s): Energy  Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Solar Energy Technology Office (SETO).

As the cost of producing solar energy continues to decrease, going solar becomes increasingly appealing to homeowners and businesses as a way to reduce both their electricity bills and environmental impact. Unfortunately, a large percentage of the population cannot install rooftop solar panels on their home or business for various reasons. Many people live or work in urban areas with insufficient rooftop space, rent their home or business, or cannot afford the upfront installation costs. Community solar remedies these problems and allows greater access to the benefits of solar. As a product it was invented in Colorado about seven years ago and allows customers to subscribe to a local solar farm in their area and receive the benefits of solar without installing any solar equipment on their property.

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Faraday Technology’s pulsed current electro-polishing technology solves scalability and environmental issues related to superconducting radio-frequency cavities used in high-performance particle accelerators.

Faraday Technology 

Program(s): Nuclear Physics (NP); High Energy Physics (HEP).h Energy Physics (HEP).

Faraday Technology, Inc., or  Faraday for brevity, is a great example of a small business that, although not  fitting the definition of a startup, has nonetheless successfully leveraged the  SBIR/STTR programs to increase National economic growth while at the same time advancing  the frontiers of the physical sciences in line with the goals of the Department  of Energy (DOE). With support from DOE SBIR, Faraday has developed and  commercialized a novel electrodeposition/plating technology, which represents a  paradigm shift from widely established past models. Faraday's discoveries have  dramatic implications for the Nation's world-class particle accelerator  facilities supported by DOE, which aim at understanding the building blocks of matter  and how the universe has evolved instants away from the Big Bang.

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An innovative fuel reformer enables solid oxide fuel cells to operate with conventional fuels.


Program(s): Office of Fossil Energy (FE)

“We put the fuel in fuel cells®.” That’s a Precision Combustion, Inc. (PCI) vision.  PCI is developing compact and efficient fuel processors allowing fuel cells to use conventional fuels.  For high efficiency Solid Oxide Fuel Cells (SOFCs) in particular, PCI’s Microlith® autothermal reformer (ATR) converts diesel, biofuel, gasoline or natural gas into the high hydrogen content syngas mixtures that fuel the SOFCs, while also removing sulfur.  The fuel diversity broadens the market for fuel cells. PCI has built on its ATR breakthrough to develop other fuel processors for multiple applications, achieving SBIR Phase III successes for mobile and stationary fuel cells, military gensets, and IC engine improvements in efficiency and emissions.  It all started with the SBIR program.

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Evolution of multiplex DNA diagnostics from idea to a  profitable business.


Program(s): Biological and Environmental Research  (BER)

The story of many successful high-tech startups begins with an SBIR (or STTR) grant and evolves on a commercialization path that varies from company to company. Documenting this path is usually challenging because the SBIR grant occurs at the company’s earliest stages of development, being often the only means for the company to carry out critical R&D leading to a prototype. Once the startup graduates from the seed fund stage, communication with funding Government agencies lessens and the full picture of the company’s evolution and outcomes over a period of many years cannot be always reconstructed. In the case of Clinical Micro Sensors we were fortunate to get in touch with the company’s former Chief Scientist, Dr. Stephen O’Connor.

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Innovative functional sensors employ carbon nanotubes and polymer nanowires with a tunable surface chemistry to detect a variety of molecules.

Program(s): Office of Fossil Energy (FE)

InnoSense LLC (ISL) has adopted a commercialization strategy that consists of developing multiple application opportunities for different markets. This approach requires understanding the different uses a given technology can have and further tailoring some of its aspects to meet the demand of different customers. ISL has leveraged R&D funds from the Department of Energy (DOE) and subsequently from other Federal agencies with missions that complement DOE’s goals, such as the Department of Defense (DOD) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). This has been the strategy of choice for ISL’s nanowire chemical sensing technology, which was originally funded by the DOE SBIR/STTR Programs for developing a polymer-based sensor array toward subsurface CO2 detection and monitoring.

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An integrated cloud based cyberinfrastructure for sustainable and optimal use of subsurface resources.

Program(s): Biological and Environmental Research (BER)

Time lapse geophysical techniques can provide real time insights in subsurface processes such as enhanced bioremediation. As an expert in time lapse geophysics, and a scientist working at Idaho National Laboratory, Dr. Roelof Versteeg was determined to improve the understanding of time lapse geophysical data through the use of geochemical, hydrological and remote sensed data.

This work motivated Dr. Versteeg to found Subsurface Insights in 2012 to address a need which exists across water resources, site remediation and agriculture: how to effectively and automatically collect, manage and analyze geoscience data sets to generate actionable information on subsurface processes

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Low-cost, polymer-based security tag technology uses crack patterns for unambiguous tampering evidence.

Program(s): National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)

Tamper-indicating security seals are designed to leave non-erasable, unambiguous evidence of unauthorized access or entry. As such, these seals play a critical role in customs, nonproliferation, law enforcement, and counter-terrorism. It has been shown that currently available seals can be quickly and easily spoofed and high-tech electronic seals, although more expensive and labor-intensive, do not necessarily perform better than simple mechanical seals. Currently, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and many private companies have expressed a demand for high-performance, lightweight, and inexpensive passive seals.

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Anasys Instruments’ newly developed nanoIR technology allows for combined materials chemistry and topography mapping with 10-nanometer resolution.

Anasys Instruments’ newly developed nanoIR technology allows  for combined materials chemistry and topography mapping with 10-nanometer  resolution.

When it comes to sample characterization and analysis, the dream of any materials scientist is an instrument that given an “as grown” material of undefined composition would easily produce a map of its chemistry and other electronic properties along with its topography with nanoscale spatial resolution and without the need of sample preparation steps or costly high-vacuum environments. Developing such an instrument was the vision behind the genesis and subsequent success of Anasys Instruments. Now, with its recent acquisition by Bruker, Anasys nanoIR technology is posed to dramatically impact materials research worldwide.

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Converting Legacy Linear Fluorescent Lamps (LFLs) and luminaires to Solid-State Lighting (SSL).

Converting Legacy Linear Fluorescent Lamps (LFLs) and luminaires to Solid-State Lighting (SSL).

Buildings account for more than 75% of all U.S. electricity use and more than 40% of all U.S. energy use. Almost 30% of that energy is consumed by interior lighting. In commercial buildings, 80% of all lighting fixtures use fluorescent lamps to produce light. These linear fluorescent lamp (LFL) fixtures or luminaires account for about 1 billion units installed in the commercial and industrial lighting base in the U.S., costing ratepayers around $27 billion annually. These legacy lighting products are commonly associated with poor light quality, flicker, lack of dimming, short lifetime, environmentally hazardous breakage and disposal, lack of compliance with current building codes, and very limited design choices.

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High light extraction photonic materials and color conversion film nanostructures for next-generation solid-state lighting technologies.

High light extraction photonic materials and color conversion film nanostructures for next-generation solid-state lighting technologies.

Although Solid-State Lighting (SSL) sources such as light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are much more energy efficient and versatile than legacy lighting technologies, including fluorescent lamps, the adoption of LEDs for lighting products is still very low due to their high cost and the monotone color of the light produced. Today, many commercial LEDs use phosphors to convert some of the violet/blue light to green/yellow/red light for a wide variety of indoor/outdoor applications. This includes not only general illumination for residential and commercial buildings but also other forms of lighting such as automotive, aerospace, street lighting, horticulture, even backlit displays used in portable electronics. However, phosphors are expensive optical materials that can range in price (per kilogram) from 1X to more than 10X that of silver. Producing a consistent high quality white or amber light from blue is especially challenging and typically involves using a large amount of phosphor materials, resulting in high costs.

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Based on the theory of knots and braids, Telescent has developed a robotic fiber optic cross-connect capable of automating the physical layer of connections in data centers.

Fiber optic interconnects are cables made of glass optical fiber with a connector at each end. They have replaced most Cu cables in data centers because of their higher bandwidth, which allows for data transmission at rates of 400 GB/s without significant signal losses. Fiber optic interconnects are the most numerous device in a data center, totaling hundreds of thousands of cables connecting all the servers with switches and storage devices. Today these cables are managed using manual processes, which are highly inefficient, particularly as data centers scale. Hardware upgrades, migrations, scaling, and new customer requirements demand daily managing of interconnects. However, because connections are made manually, with an inherent risk for human error, many companies delay modifying connections, which negatively impacts network performance. Telescent was founded to address this opportunity with a clever, innovative solution.

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Converting regular steel in the world’s leading performing material for lighter and stronger vehicles.


A long-standing goal for the U.S. Departments of Energy (DOE) and Defense (DOD) has been to replace the steel in civil and military vehicles with a lighter-weight material that performs better in case of crash and under ballistic attack. Research has shown that a 10% reduction in vehicle weight increases fuel economy from 6% to 8%. To date, efforts to replace steel with aluminum, titanium, magnesium, or carbon composites have not been successful because these materials are from 3 to 30 times more expensive than steel. In addition, their use would involve a complete retooling of vehicle factories, requiring billions of dollars in investment. Flash Steelworks, Inc., formerly known as SFP Works, LLC, is about to turn the dream of lighter, stronger vehicles into reality with an innovation that is brilliant in its simplicity.

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Changing the game for large supply chains through computational optimization of production and distribution.

Optimal Solutions

While working at GE Global Research as a chemical engineer and interfacing with large chemicals companies such as GE Plastics (now known as SABIC), Dr. Vijay Hanagandi had a business idea. He realized that hundreds of millions of dollars could be saved by companies that produce and ship large quantities of any type of product by optimizing production and transportation simultaneously – in a single step instead of relying on heuristic approaches and common logistic practices.

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Compact, portable neutron generators open up new industrial applications.


Over the course of its 20 years of operation, Adelphi Technology, Inc. has pioneered and perfected the design and production of state of the art, compact, and safe neutron generators. The production of a neutron beam might seem like an activity strictly reserved to government and regional sponsored facilities and not something to be manufactured in parallel. That is precisely what makes Adelphi special. Thanks to their impressive technical ability, Adelphi’s scientists have been able to shrink neutron generators to the point of making this technology available to modest-sized research laboratories and businesses, opening up an entire class of applications impossible before.

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Using High Performance Computing to simulate the electromagnetic response of Silicon Photonic devices.

Tech X

Since 1994 when it was founded, Tech-X Corporation (Tech-X) has been a consistent contributor to the mission of the Department of Energy (DOE) through the DOE SBIR/STTR Programs. Tech-X has been very successful at leveraging SBIR awards to deliver technologies that were instrumental in carrying out multiple scientific projects. Over the years, Tech-X has partnered with several DOE National Laboratories to address the most challenging demands in high-performance computational (HPC) software, simulation, and design. With a staff of 40 people between employees and consultants, Tech-X has been at the forefront of HPC code enhancement through porting to modern hardware, such as Advanced Vector Extensions (AVX) and high-performance visualization and graphical user interfaces.

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Powering fuel cell electric vehicles with innovative on–site, on–demand refueling hydrogen stations.


Every scientific discovery, no matter how significant, must overcome a number of barriers before it can be translated to a commercial product. Often, these barriers are necessary steps to maximize efficiency and reliability and lower costs to the point where a commercial market develops. This is certainly the case for proton-exchange membrane (PEM), fuel cells, and electrolyzers, which produce energy from hydrogen for powering hydrogen vehicles, and transform energy back into hydrogen as a form of energy storage.

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High-voltage SiC-based transistors for electric grid power conversion and on-board charging in electric vehicles.

United Silicon Carbide, Inc. (USCi) is a leader in the development of the next generation diodes and transistors making up the building blocks of power conversion circuits, which are designed to convert electricity between different currents, voltage levels, and frequencies. Power conversion is a vital function in today's increasingly electrified world and an indispensable one for integrating intermittent energy sources such as wind and solar into the existing electric grid infrastructure. Power semiconductor devices play a major role in many other fields, including aerospace, telecommunications, and automotive systems, particularly in hybrid, electric, and fuel cell vehicles.

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High-temperature superconducting magnet cables for the next generation of particle accelerators and fusion reactors.

Advanced Conductor Technologies

High-temperature superconductor (HTS) cables offer a potential breakthrough for developing a lower cost path to fusion energy, as well as for the next generation of proton-proton colliders. Current fusion and accelerator magnets are built using low-temperature superconductors (LTS) made of Nb-Ti and Nb3Sn, in which superconductivity breaks down not far above the temperature of liquid helium (4.2 K) and at relatively small applied fields of nearly 16 T. In Fusion Energy applications, limitations in current vs. magnetic field characteristics of LTS result in very large reactor structures like ITER and in associated costs in the range of tens of billions. Because HTS can sustain much larger operating currents at higher magnetic fields than LTS, HTS cables can be used to produce fusion magnets generating fields of over 20 T in a much smaller machine.

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KMLabs’ coherent extreme ultraviolet and soft X-ray table top sources are expected to transform metrology and inspection tools in the semiconductor industry.

KM Labs

KMLabs offers a clear demonstration that commercial success can originate directly from fundamental physics research, even when demand for a product comes predominantly from the scientific community. Kapteyn-Murnane Laboratories LLC or KMLabs, Inc. was founded in 1994 by two physics professors at University of Colorado, Henry Kapteyn, now KMLabs’ CTO and co-chairman of the board, and Margaret Murnane, current board member. The idea of creating a company came because of overwhelming requests from other universities and scientific institutions to get help, information, and parts in order to reproduce Kapteyn’s and Murnane’s scientific achievement—the first ultrafast laser capable of pulses lasting just 10 femtoseconds, something considered esoteric until then.

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Noanoparticle ink technology enables 30% efficiency increase in commercial solar cells.

Applied Nanotech

There are two crucial factors preventing our society from harnessing more of the Sun’s unlimited energy and from developing a future free from our current environmental concerns—the solar cells’ manufacturing costs and their low electrical efficiency conversion rate.  The two are interrelated and an improvement in efficiency, even when resulting from a remarkable innovation, might also require a more expensive manufacturing process, precluding a net gain in cost.

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Using 3D printing technology to make post-combustion carbon capture cost-competitive.

ION Engineering (ION)

ION Engineering (ION) was formed in 2008 following an unexpected encounter between Dr. Alfred “Buz” Brown, an entrepreneur with years of experience in leading early-stage technology companies, and a team of postdocs at the University of Colorado, Boulder, CO. The team of scientists, led by Dr. Jason Bara, had developed an idea about how to drastically improve the removal of carbon dioxide (CO2) from industrial sources. Dr. Brown’s business experience with startups and technical aptitude for identifying transformational technologies, combined with commitments from Dr. Bara and his technical team, resulted in the formation of ION in 2008. From its initial beginnings, ION’s mission has been to develop novel, proprietary liquid solvent technologies for the capture of CO2 from power plants, refineries, and other industrial sources more efficiently and at lower costs than commercial alternatives.
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Innovative hydropower turbines for low-cost, ecosystem-safe generation of electricity

Situated across the bay from San Francisco, Natel Energy Inc. (Natel) has many aspects in common with the epitome of the Bay Area startup, especially a young, motivated, and enthusiastic staff. On the other hand, Natel Energy operates in a very different technological field than the typical high-tech startup. Natel’s products are not related to software or the internet but to the production of renewable energy through a new concept of ecosystem-friendly hydropower production.
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First commercial, quantum cascade laser for full fingerprinting of atmospheric pollutants

Turning a newly-discovered quantum mechanical phenomenon into a commercial product that benefits society is the holy grail of applied science, and by no means a common occurrence. However, this is exactly what Daylight Solutions was able to accomplish in a relatively short time after it was founded in 2005 by three high-tech entrepreneurs.
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Battery-free technology for instant electronic inventory of sensitive items at a distance

Imagine a tag that works similarly to a bar code but can be activated at a much larger distance and can transmit encrypted information without a battery. This is precisely what Radio-frequency (RFID) tags produced by Dirac Solutions Inc. (DSI) can accomplish, playing a crucial role in inventory management of national security items. The RFID technology was discovered decades ago, but Dirac Solutions products are different from other RFID devices. DSI technology overcomes serious technical problems that occur when many RFIDs are close together, around metals and liquids, and in the presence of interfering signals, all of which degrade the RF communications.
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High-frequency electron beam modulating device for next generation ultrafast time-resolved transmission electron microscopes.

 Euclid Techlabs

Sometimes the most notable innovations in science come from linking traditionally separate or independent knowledge. Specifically, synergies happen when mechanisms known and adopted in one scientific domain are modified to produce new concepts in a different domain. Often, such cross cutting approaches need to be encouraged because of the highly specialized fashion in which each scientific field evolves. Yet, sometimes they spur spontaneously as the result of a fortuitous encounter. Euclid TechLabs LLC (Euclid for short) is an R&D small business specializing in the design and development of particle accelerators and their components for high energy and nuclear physics applications.
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Kitware's open-source software platforms make High Performance Computing modeling and simulation available to small and medium businesses.


Unlike for the majority of small businesses that obtain SBIR grants from the Department of Energy (DOE), Kitware’s relationship with the DOE SBIR Program started after the company had already worked on several DOE projects under direct contract with DOE’s National Laboratories, specifically Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), and the Sandia National Laboratories (SNL).  The relationship between Kitware and DOE dates back 20 years, and it was instrumental to the development of three major software platforms offered by the company: VTK, ParaView, and CMB. Kitware distinguishes itself from other SBIR recipients in another interesting way—Kitware’s business model involves developing large and complex open source software platforms, which some might consider incompatible with a private business’ objective to generate profits.
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Cybersecurity technology for high-speed network infrastructures and high-performance computing centers.


Reservoir Labs is a great example of a small business that was able to develop and manufacture a complete product and to achieve significant sales to a diverse clientele by leveraging SBIR grants, without additional 3rd party private investment. Such an achievement “required bootstrapping and use of internal resources”, Dr. Richard Lethin, President of Reservoir Labs explains. Nevertheless, Reservoir Labs’ example shows that in certain cases SBIR grants alone, together with the small business’ determination, can succeed in bringing a new product to the market.
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Portable solid state detector allows first responders to a radiation incident to identify a wide range of radioactive sources.


Based in Watertown MA, Radiation Monitoring Devices, Inc. (RMD) was founded in 1974 and, since 2008, has operated as a subsidiary of Dynasil Corporation of America, serving as the incubator for new product innovations. From its early days, RMD’s mission has been twofold: 1) perform world-class research and, 2) transition technologies from research to commercial products. To meet these objectives, RMD adopts a variety of commercialization strategies, depending on the particular technology and the most appropriate business model. RMD performs R&D in an impressive range of scientific fields, from space science to particle physics, and from nuclear security and safeguard to clinical diagnoses and environmental research. Within these areas, RMD develops advanced functional materials, instrumentation, electronics, and software for imaging and augmented reality.
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Wave-powered desalination system will provide communities in developing countries with clean fresh water at a competitive cost.


When we think of hydropower and the harnessing of energy carried by ocean waves, we might picture devices engineered to transform wave energy in electricity to be pumped into the National electric grid. However, the economic developments associated with hydropower go far beyond the production of electricity. In fact, as stated in a recent report issued by the Wind and Water Power Technologies Office of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), in addition to producing electricity, many of today’s hydropower facilities provide flood control, irrigation, and water supply, delivering public health and environmental benefits, in addition to electricity.
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Seismic sensors based on optical interferometry provide unmatched sensitivity for detection and analysis of underground nuclear explosions.

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Detecting and identifying events associated with the development of foreign nuclear weapons are central goals for the U.S. DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), and other government agencies. These objectives rely on advanced technologies including detection of radiation and radioactive particles, satellite imaging, and seismic monitoring, which all complement each other in nature. For example, while radionuclide monitoring has the definite advantage of being able to confirm whether an explosion resulted from a nuclear test, if the nuclear explosion is detonated underground, the radioactive particles and gases are largely contained, and seismology becomes, in this case, the tool of choice for learning about the event.
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SiNode Systems founding team in Times Square after ringing the NASDAQ closing bell in April 2013.


Among clean-tech startups, SiNode Systems Inc. needs little technical introduction because its products address an obvious need in today’s market, a need anybody can agree on — a faster charging, longer lasting lithium ion battery. Lithium ion batteries are the go-to battery type for most consumer and home electronics, due to their high energy density and low self-discharge. The electric vehicle market is perhaps set to be the biggest consumer of rechargeable lithium ion batteries, with most newer plug-in hybrids and all-electric vehicles opting to use them over the nickel-metal hydride batteries used in older hybrid vehicles.
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High-precision digitizers with up to 40 channels for high-density data acquisition systems.


SkuTek had an exciting and unusual beginning as a company, which perhaps is not surprising in the world of experimental physics startups. It was founded in 2000 by Wojtek Skulski and his wife Joanna while Dr. Skulski was working at the University of Rochester on the PHOBOS experiment, carried out at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) located at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL). PHOBOS, an experiment devised to search for the formation of Quark-Gluon Plasma (QGP) recreating the scenario that occurred at about a micro-second after the Big Bang, was in need of a critical upgrade to improve the time-of-flight resolution, which is a critical parameter in discriminating elementary particles of different mass.
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XIA’s invention and development of radiation digitizers has been a major innovation in the field of spectroscopy.


XIA deserves to be credited as one of the experimental physics startups that in the 90’s revolutionized the acquisition and processing of x-ray, gamma-ray, and other radiation signals, promoting an unprecedented development in spectroscopy capabilities in Universities, National Laboratories, and Industry. Signal processing is key to extracting meaningful information from any type of detector and digitizing the signal allows scientists to use computer processing, thereby performing analyses that would be tedious or impossible to carry out manually. An example is the typical needle-in-the-haystack problem often encountered in High Energy Physics and Nuclear Physics experiments, where the event to be studied may happen only once every billion counts, making manual analysis impractical.
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