Madison firms nab $75k each to commercialize their products

Six small, high-tech Madison businesses have received a financial boost in the form of $75,000 matching grants to enable them to further research and commercialize their innovations.

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.

The Madison-area recipients are:

  • systeMECH, which is developing tools and processes for building flexible hybrid electronic and photonic devices.
  • Xylome, which specializes in the metabolic engineering of nonconventional yeasts to produce renewable fuels and other higher-value products.
  • Regenerative Medical Solutions, which supplies pancreatic cells for drug research and is developing a therapeutic treatment for diabetes.
  • Glucan Biorenewables, which transforms woodchips and other biomass into renewable chemicals and advanced materials.
  • Amebagone, which is pioneering development of safe, easy-to-use antimicrobials and disinfectants to destroy bacterial pathogens causing crop loss in agriculture and human infectious diseases.
  • C-Motive Technologies, which is developing next-generation electric motors to improve performance, increase energy efficiency, and reduce costs.

A seventh company, V-Glass of Pewaukee, which is developing low-cost, high-efficiency window glass, also received SBIR funding.

According to Tom Joyce, vice president, corporate development and administration for Regenerative Medical Solutions Inc., the SBIR funds could go a long way toward helping find a cure for diabetes.

Regenerative Medical Solutions is using stem cells in an effort to cure diabetes.

Regenerative Medical Solutions uses a pancreatic cell product derived from stem cells — specifically induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). “iPSCs are derived from an adult blood or skin cell and then essentially wiped to an embryonic-like state that can then be directed to different cell types,” Joyce explains. “We only focus on the pancreas but others do heart cells, liver cells, etc.”

Regenerative Medical Solutions developed a patented method to culture human pluripotent stem cells into insulin-producing Islet-Like Clusters (ILCs) for dual research tool — drug discovery, compound screening, and toxicity testing to see the effect on the pancreas would be except in a dish rather than having to test on an animal or human — and direct therapeutic use for diabetes.

“Our business is two-fold,” notes Joyce. “We are selling our cells as research products to pharmaceutical companies for testing and we are utilizing our cells in preclinical trials with goal of having a FDA-approved cell therapy to cure diabetes, which would obviously serve as a significant medical breakthrough and help millions of people affected worldwide.

Another award recipient, Amebagone, is using its technology to protect agricultural crops that are vital to Wisconsin’s economy.

“Amebagone plans to use our SBIR Advance award to cover expenses that are not allowed under federal grants,” says Amebagone Inc. President/CEO Cheryl Vickroy. “We will secure additional new intellectual property developed through our R&D, help fund Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registration of our product, and help fund travel to visit partners and customers.”



According to Vickroy, Amebagone’s products protect all kinds of crops from bacterial infections that cause loss of production or even kill entire crops. “We will treat a wide variety of crop pathogens, in crops from orchard fruits such as apples and pears to potatoes, tomatoes, corn, and beans, many of which are grown locally in Wisconsin,” notes Vickroy.

Amebagone is using its technology to protect agricultural crops that are vital to Wisconsin’s economy

“Bacteria are developing resistance to current treatments, rendering them marginally effective at best. Some current treatments are even toxic. Our safe, natural predators consume bacteria, leaving no remnants or toxins. Existing solutions are unable to penetrate bacteria’s natural defenses — known as biofilms — whereas Amebagone’s products can consume pathogenic bacteria whether live, dormant, or enmeshed in biofilms. This advantage also helps reduce the ability of bacteria to develop resistance against our solution,” Vickroy explains.

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.

This is the eighth round of SBIR Advance funding since this collaboration by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. (WEDC) and the University of Wisconsin–Extension’s Center for Technology Commercialization (CTC) began in 2014. Since then, more than $3.6 million has been awarded to 37 companies throughout the state. Those businesses reported hiring more than 150 employees and obtaining $11.5 million in additional capital since receiving the grants.

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