$775,000 in state matching grants advance 9 innovative small businesses

MADISON – Nine small businesses in Wisconsin will receive up to $775,000 to commercialize their innovations, thanks to the SBIR Advance program’s latest round of funding.

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. This is the 22nd round of SBIR Advance funding since this collaboration by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) and the Center for Technology Commercialization (CTC) began in 2014.

Over the past nine years, 166 awards totaling nearly $14 million have been awarded. Those businesses reported obtaining $76.6 million in follow on funding since receiving the SBIR Advance matching grants.

The Phase 1 recipients, each receiving up to $75,000 match, are:

  • Calimetrix of Madison (NIH) delivers precise reference standards for MRI Quality Assurance, increasing confidence in MRI results and reducing the risk of undetected problems that can lead to misdiagnosis.
  • Midwest Electric Propulsion Company (MEPCO) of New Berlin (NSF) is founded by Power Electronics experts having more than 80 years of combined experience, and will develop an extremely compact, modular and scalable power conversion system which utilizes Wideband Gap semiconductor devices.
  • Proteovista LLC of Madison (NIH) is a small woman-owned biotechnology company that develops innovative drug discovery assays, research tools and personalized medicine technologies. The company leverages its cutting-edge Specificity and Affinity for Proteins (SNAP) platform to create solutions.
  • Sativa Building Systems, Inc. of Wittenberg (DoD – Army) manufactures proprietary hempcrete block panels for safe and sustainable building construction. Benefits of Sativa’s sustainable, patented Z Panel structures include passive air filtration, resistance to mold, pests, rot and fire.
  • Terra Bioforge of Middleton (NIH) has pioneered a gap filling synthetic biology platform for overproduction and discovery of bioactive natural products that are beneficial to plants, animals, and humans. Natural Products By DesignTM technology enables Terra to develop customized microbes and biochemical agents for the therapeutic drug production market and agricultural biochemical protection and enhancement market.

The Phase 2 recipients, each receiving up to $100,000 match, are:

  • D&D Products Incorporated of North Prairie (EPA) has led the global market in surface water management equipment. The Aquatic Plant Harvester, the company’s initial product, cleared waterways of weeds while offering an eco-friendly alternative to herbicides. As an additional tool in a stormwater managers tool box, they are now offering a stationary debris collection system that can be used for small and medium sized streams and rivers.
  • Rapid Radicals Technology, LLC of Milwaukee (NSF) is commercializing an innovative high-rate wastewater treatment technology. This innovative breakthrough in rapid, advanced-performance wastewater treatment is achieved in a small footprint and cost-effectively meets performance goals, making it an application not only for wet weather but also industrial wastewater treatment and pretreatment.
  • Retham Technologies of Wauwatosa (NIH) is developing HITDx an in vitro diagnostic assay that detects a severe reaction to the commonly used blood thinner heparin, which causes life and limb threatening blood clots. HITDx will offer reliable results in hours instead of days, which will help to guide patient management sooner than the current standard of care.
  • Xylome Corp. of Madison (USDA) conducts metabolic engineering on non-conventional yeasts to create sustainable products for large markets. One of its first products is Yoil® a bioidentical, sustainable palm oil substitute, that is made in a novel fermentation process. Xylome is currently developing an omega-3 fish oil from yeast for use in aquaculture feeds, and other novel yeast strains that can use cellulosic substrates for Yoil® production.

“We funded five Phase I teams and four Phase II teams for the most recent round of SBIR Advance grants,” said Rob Baranowski, SBIR Advance Program Manager. “We have a diverse group of companies that have received funding from the NIH, the NSF, the USDA, the DoD and the rarely seen EPA, with its smaller budget and limited yearly awards. We have made a concerted effort to increase the number of Defense contracts awarded to our state, and we are always pleased to see our efforts pay off with more contracts awarded to Wisconsin small businesses.”

Baranowski continued, “We will once again be using the Innovation Within training group for our Phase I Lean Startup class. Innovation Within is involved in running some of the national I-Corps programs, and we are looking forward to the training they will provide to our Phase I teams.”

The U.S. government created SBIR/STTR programs to stimulate domestic high-tech innovation, budgeting $4.43 billion in federal research funding in 2022. 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.

“Innovation drives Wisconsin’s economy forward. People are always looking for new ways of doing things or doing things better,” said Missy Hughes, secretary and CEO of WEDC. “WEDC is proud to support the SBIR Advance program because it gives some of Wisconsin’s most technically exciting young companies the boost they need to get to the next level. We have seen the results of this important program in bridging the gap from innovation to customers, investors, and success for Wisconsin.”

For more details on the SBIR Advance program, visit or e-mail . The next solicitation is expected to open in late February.

SBIR Advance is part of a Start-Seed-Scale (S3) initiative WEDC is pursuing with the help of the Universities of Wisconsin and other business leaders throughout the state to remove barriers to high-tech commercialization. Under the S3 umbrella, WEDC and its economic development partners are implementing financial and operational assistance programs designed specifically to address Wisconsin’s business startup and seed-funding challenges.

About Center for Technology Commercialization

The Center for Technology Commercialization is part of the University of Wisconsin Institute for Business & Entrepreneurship. CTC provides one-on-one expert consulting to early-stage emerging technology businesses throughout Wisconsin. CTC has collaborated in acquiring more than $100 million in federal and other funding for clients. Learn more at; follow @WisconsinCTC on Twitter.

About Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) leads economic development efforts for the state by advancing and maximizing opportunities in Wisconsin for businesses, communities and people to thrive in a globally competitive environment. Working with more than 600 regional and local partners, WEDC develops and delivers solutions representative of a highly responsive and coordinated economic development network. Learn more at; follow @WEDCNews on Twitter.


High-tech small businesses: Apply for 22nd round of SBIR Advance funding

The Center for Technology Commercialization (CTC) is offering a matching grant of up to $100,000 to provide additional 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.