This year’s FedTech Startup Studio Program, which is a multi-month course that brings together entrepreneurs and government researchers to develop startup companies around technologies created in federal labs, recently came to a finish with the 2021 cohort. Throughout the program, the teams worked with business mentors and federal researchers on developing business plans, market discovery, pitching, as well as many other aspects of what is needed to bring a technology to market through a start-up company.
The pinnacle event of the program, the FedTech Frontier Venture Summit, was the final, virtual wrap-up of all the hard work the teams had contributed. Each of the 12 teams pitched their start-up companies and their mission to a panel of business experts. The entire event was a chance for the greater community to come together to learn, network, and celebrate the innovative concepts of these teams and the overall goal to accelerate federal technologies to the commercial market.
There were multiple federal agencies partnered in this year’s program, to include: NIST, the Department of Energy, the National Nuclear Security Administration, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and Northeastern University. The technologies that the teams worked with came from the labs within these agencies, with two Start-Up Studio teams having formed around NIST inventions.
The first revolved around Babak Nikoobakht’s, of the Material Measurement Laboratory, innovation with light emitting diode (LED) lights. Through his research, he developed a novel LED that eliminates the decline in light efficiency when operating with high electrical currents. Current LEDs run into this problem where the output of brightness decreases after an electrical current hits a threshold. The entrepreneurs formed a team around this technology for the primary purpose of using the ultraviolet light from the LEDs to disinfect and sanitize locations. They saw a market opportunity to commercialize this technology to better eliminate potential viruses from areas that people frequent.
Another team used the technology from Arvind Balijepalli, of the Physical Measurement Laboratory, and his closed-loop controlled chemical apparatus. This invention comprises a modular electronic platform for measurements of biomarkers. The electronic readouts from this invention allow for the sensors to report both kinetics and binding of molecules to a surface, which drastically improves current measuring systems in portable formats. The team quickly saw a need for this in the manufacturing industry with plans to develop the technology for clinical diagnostics, drug development and other biotechnology applications.
“The FedTech Frontier Venture Summit was an amazing opportunity to promote the commercialization of federal technologies and to foster entrepreneurship within the community. It’s always encouraging to see the public and private sector come together to collaborate to help better society and drive the economy,” said Acting Director of the Technology Partnerships Office at NIST Jeff DiVietro.
The FedTech Startup Studio Program will return again in 2022 and will provide a great platform to propel innovative, federal technologies out of the laboratories and closer to the market.