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The FedTech Startup Studio’s Real-World Approach Advances Technology Transfer

Technology Transfer is an intensely dynamic field, and the process of moving federal scientific and technological research from the lab to the marketplace teems with original and innovative approaches.

FedTech, a venture firm that was formed in 2015 as a catalyst for deep-tech innovation, has pioneered one of these innovative approaches, the Startup Studio. 

The Startup Studio is a highly creative approach bringing together research scientists from federal agencies, universities, and Federally Funded Research and Development Centers with diverse entrepreneurs, such as investors, venture capitalists, subject matter experts, and potential “angels” to bring the benefits of federal research to society through the commercial world.  

The FedTech Startup Studio consists of three components, and a NIST team is participating in all three phases of this year’s program.

Phase One began in the summer of 2022 when federal and university researchers were matched with entrepreneurs whose interests aligned with the research topics.  A team was formed for each technology, and the participants discussed specifics of the science and explored aspects of commercialization and business organization.  The teams practiced how to pitch the project to garner investment and promote commercial development.

Phase One culminated in Pitch Day on February 1.  Each team presented its technology to a panel of scientists and entrepreneurs, and the panel critiqued the presentations and suggested refinements and additional avenues of approach.  The federally-funded research discussed in the meeting spanned a wide range.  Technologies included a new approach to prevent blood clotting in the lungs, a precision tool for dealing with sepsis, and using Artificial Intelligence to capture data missing from patient records and assess the missing data’s importance to a patient’s treatment.

The team from NIST presented the ongoing research of three NIST scientists to develop an Optofluidic Flow Meter, a device that can track the delivery of extremely small amounts of liquids.  Accurate flow measurement is crucial to managing doses of medicine and controlling chemical mixtures for manufacturing.  

The research was conducted by Greg Cooksey of the Biophysical and Biomedical Measurement Group at the Physical Measurement Laboratory’s Microsystems and Nanotechnology Division and Paul Patrone and Anthony Kearsley of the Mathematical Analysis and Modeling Group of the Information Technology Laboratory’s Applied and Computational Mathematics Division.

In addition to the medical and manufacturing applications of their work, Greg notes that “we’re trying to develop an accurate flow measurement system that can be easily deployed to support advanced measurement capabilities, such as those needed in next-generation bioanalytical tools.” Their work also offers several potential opportunities for spinoff technologies and may enable manufacturers of microfluidic devices to develop a new generation of flow sensors.

The NIST team is participating in Phase Two of the FedTech Startup Studio program and will be featured at the program’s Summit on April 19.

Phase Two is taking place now.  It is an intensive ten-week period of consultation where the Team members do deep dives into the specifics of launching commercialization. They explore the possibility of licensing, incorporating, and developing marketing strategies.

The Summit is the culmination of the Startup Studio’s public program.  It is a venture showcase event where all the participating teams can present the potential of their technologies. 

The Summit will be a virtual meeting on April 19, formatted as a pitch event, to showcase the potential of the technologies. 

The process doesn’t end with the Summit; the process kicks off with the Summit.

Just as the process of technology transfer is continuous and multi-faceted, so too is the Startup Studio’s ongoing aim to bring technologies to the marketplace through the continued fostering of commercialization and through the establishment of formal relationships through licensing agreements. 

Released March 22, 2023