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NIST Awards Nearly $3.9 Million for 2017 Small Business Innovation Research Program

GAITHERSBURG, Md.—The U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) today announced that 21 small businesses will receive a total of nearly $3.9 million in grants to support innovative technology development.

“These small business grants from the National Institute of Standards and Technology exemplify the Trump Administration’s commitment to using public-private partnerships as a model for innovation and growth,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “These projects support essential elements of our economy and national security apparatus, such as semiconductors, forensics, aerospace and advanced manufacturing.”

Awardees in 16 states will receive Phase I or Phase II funding through NIST’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. The competitively selected awardees submitted proposals in response to NIST’s calls for innovative products. These products aim to solve specific technology challenges in collaboration and partnership, data and modeling, precision measurements, and systems.

“These grants are a strong investment in the nation’s economic future,” said Paul Zielinski, director, NIST’s Technology Partnerships Office. “Small businesses build on NIST’s scientific advances and create next-generation products that boost U.S. leadership in technology.” 

Phase I awardees receive up to $100,000 to establish the merit, feasibility and commercial potential of the proposed research and development. After completing their Phase I projects, awardees may vie for Phase II funding of up to $300,000 to continue their efforts. In Phase III, non-SBIR funds are used for technology commercialization.

Over the years, the NIST SBIR program has supported numerous technology advances, including a device to help ensure the safety and effectiveness of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines, more secure electronic health records and improved sensors for a variety of applications.

The 2017 Phase I awardees are:

Collaboration and Partnership

En’Urga Inc. (West Lafayette, Indiana) $100,000

Optical Device for Sorting Particles by Size—a device based on a NIST provisional patent to estimate the size of minute drops in advanced spray nozzles and fuel injectors designed to improve engine efficiency in the automotive and aerospace industries.


Data and Modeling

MBSE Tools, Inc., doing business as ModGeno (Cumming, Georgia) $100,000

A Model-Based Solution to Improve the Accessibility and Affordability of Manufacturing System Simulations—an automated modeling and analysis tool to help manufacturers answer routine questions about throughput, capacity, cycle time and work-in-process inventory.

MetroSage, LLC (Volcano, California) $99,500

Interactive Software Tools for Processing QIF-formatted Part Models to Generate Realistic and Accurate Measurement Plans and Programs in Standard Digital Languages—a software application for automated measuring machines based on an ANSI standard for advanced manufacturing.

X-wave Innovations, Inc. (Gaithersburg, Maryland) $100,000

3-D Digital Image Correlation Based Non-Destructive Testing System for Qualification of Additive Manufacturing Parts—a 3-D nondestructive testing technology to detect defects in parts produced by advanced manufacturing, for applications in the aerospace and energy fields.


Precision Measurements

ColdQuanta, Inc. (Boulder, Colorado) $99,902

Compact Vapor Cell Technology for Rydberg‐Atom RF Metrology—a device for high-accuracy radio frequency metrology with applications in detection and imaging of concealed weapons; biological sensing of optically opaque materials; and design and manufacture of smart antennas, phased arrays and radar systems.

Low Thermal Electronics, Inc. (Itasca, Texas) $97,500

Precision 10 kV Programmable Voltage Source—a voltage source to provide precise high-voltage and high-resistance measurements in a cost-effective instrument.  

Tetramer Technologies, LLC (Pendleton, South Carolina) $99,953

Rational Design of sub-100 nm Polystyrene Particles with a Low Coefficient of Variation in Size—a set of nanometer-scale calibration particles for optical sizing equipment, electron microscopy and semiconducting measurement tools for commercial products made using nanotechnology.



Cadre Research Labs, LLC (Chicago, Illinois) $92,100

Development, Validation, and Implementation of CMC Algorithm into a Software Platform for Firearm Analysis—an automated system based on a NIST-developed algorithm for firearm evidence identifications in crime labs.

InfoBeyond Technology LLC (Louisville, Kentucky) $100,000

Low‐Latency High‐Reliability Wireless Protocol for Advanced Manufacturing Applications—a wireless protocol to meet the communications needs of advanced manufacturing automated factories.

Nikira Labs, Inc. (Mountain View, California) $98,177

Large Field of View Microscope for Rapid, High-Resolution Imaging—a high-resolution microscope that can rapidly image a large field of view and which can be retrofitted into existing microscopes.

SIFT, LLC (Minneapolis, Minnesota) $99,835

ISABEL - Integrated Secure Automated Bug Extraction List—a program based on the NIST Bugs Framework (a dictionary of software bugs) that seeks out bugs and their sources to improve software development.

XpressRules LLC (Spokane, Washington) $100,000

XpressRules-PM: Commercial Implementation of PM/NGAC—an IT product based on NIST guidance that helps organizations manage and analyze their rules and policies, with applications in the pharmaceutical, health care, credit card, banking, government and insurance fields.


The Phase II awardees are:

Advanced Sensing for Manufacturing

Bridger Photonics, Inc. (Bozeman, Montana) $299,926

Absolute Distance Interferometer for Manufacturing Metrology Applications—a rapid, precision sensor for applications in the semiconductor industry and laser materials processing.

Innoveering, LLC (Ronkonkoma, New York) $299,867

High-Temperature, High-Resolution in-situ Differential Pressure Sensor—a compact, accurate sensor to monitor high-pressure, high-temperature processes in chemical plants.

MicroXact Inc. (Radford, Virginia) $299,959

High Density Semi-Auto Closed Cycle Cryoprober II—a cryogenic probe for testing sensors and electronic components for nuclear security, concealed weapons detection, astrophysics and signal processing, as well as testing classical and quantum processers with superconducting elements.

Omega Optics Inc. (Austin, Texas) $299,240

Fiber Pigtailed On-Chip Mid-Infrared Difference Frequency Generation in Silicon—a technology to improve chemical sensing and biosensing with possible applications in food, air and water quality.

Quantum Diamond Technologies, Inc. (Somerville, Massachusetts) $300,000

High-Throughput Single-Nanoparticle Magnetic Analysis Platform Using Diamond Magnetic Imaging—a  benchtop analysis system for quantifying the magnetic properties of single nanoparticles for quality control in biomedical applications.

Symbio Robotics, Inc. (Emeryville, California) $299,587

Visual Part Identification, Localization, and Manipulation with Deep Networks—a robotic perception engine developed in Phase I that will be enhanced to meet the accuracy and reliability thresholds needed for factory automation.



Optofluidics, Inc. (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) $299,987

Horizon: Validation of an Improved Method for Rapid Characterization of Protein Aggregates in Biologic Drugs for Increased Quality and Safety—a particle-analysis quality-control instrument that could ultimately speed up product development time and improve the quality and safety of biotherapeutics.


Cyber Physical Systems

XCSpec (Larkspur, California) $298,925

Air Movement Efficiency Monitor—a small, inexpensive, wireless micro-electromechanical system (MEMS) sensor that operates as a “fitness tracker” for buildings by continuously monitoring and reporting duct leakage, air balancing and fan efficiency at key locations to lower operating costs.


Lab to Market

AxNano, LLC (Danville, Virginia) $299,994

Bimetallic Zero Valent Iron Composites for In Situ Remediation—a novel, low-cost remediation technology that will be prototyped and field tested for its ability to clean chemically contaminated waste sites.


As a non-regulatory agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, NIST promotes U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards and technology in ways that enhance economic security and improve our quality of life. To learn more about NIST, visit

Released September 25, 2017, Updated March 25, 2019