Baker-Polito Administration Announces $3.3 Million to Start-ups to Spur Technology Development in Massachusetts

MassVentures START Program, in partnership with the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, awards grants to cutting-edge Massachusetts companies

MARLBOROUGH – June 27, 2018 – Today, the Baker-Polito Administration awarded $3.3 million to 19 innovative, early-stage, high-growth companies in Massachusetts. Made possible by a collaboration between the MassVentures START program and the MassCEC, these awards will help grow employment opportunities, promote manufacturing and commercialization, and stimulate innovation across the Commonwealth. Funding will support companies located throughout Massachusetts across the technology sector, ranging from the maritime industry to biotech and defense.

Start Winners

Lt. Governor Karyn Polito announced today’s grants at the headquarters of Intrinsix, an advanced semiconductor designer based in Marlborough that received a 2013 START award.

“Like most of the Massachusetts economy, the technology sector has grown into a global leader that is booming and benefiting residents by creating good jobs and life-changing innovation,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “The START program helps our administration ensure that innovative homegrown companies can continue to get off the ground and grow this robust ecosystem at the heart of the bright future for our Commonwealth.”

“Supporting early-stage Massachusetts companies helps drive job creation and economic activity statewide,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “Our administration is committed to supporting Massachusetts’ high tech industry, especially as these entrepreneurs and innovators make the leap from concept to commercialization.”

After the presentation of awards, Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Mike Kennealy led a roundtable discussion with START awardees.

“Innovation is the backbone of the economy of Massachusetts, and reflects the highly educated workforce that is one of our greatest assets,” said Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Mike Kennealy. “Our administration is pleased to fund programs such as START and the M2I2 Initiative that provide vital support to expanding companies so they can drive growth and discovery in the Commonwealth.”

Now in its eighth year, with this year’s event, the START program has awarded nearly $21.1 million to 85 Massachusetts Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II projects and helped winning companies raise additional capital of more than $1.1 billion. START awardees since 2015 now employ more than 2,300 people in communities throughout Massachusetts.

“SBIR is America’s $2 billion seed fund and MassVentures START program helps companies capitalize on these funds and arms them with the capital, experience, mentoring and network they need to transition to high-growth companies,” said Jerry Bird, President, MassVentures.  “The START program fosters growth of companies and readies them for venture funding with the goal of helping them build their businesses here in Massachusetts.”

“MassVentures is a valuable partner in our effort to support the vibrant cleantech sector in Massachusetts and we are pleased to see these exceptional clean energy companies pursuing innovative solutions through the START program,” said Massachusetts Clean Energy Center CEO Stephen Pike. “By providing this capital infusion, these companies will now be in a better position to attract private investment, continuing the growth of the Commonwealth’s nation-leading innovation economy.”

For 2019, MassVentures and the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) have again partnered to increase the scope and capacity of the MassVentures START Program. MassCEC has committed up to $300,000 to START in 2019. The MassVentures and MassCEC cooperative endeavor is the result of the success of the expansion of START eligibility to recipients of US Department of Energy SBIR grants.

“The MassVentures START program provides key funding for our product’s commercial launch: supporting ongoing development and sales so that we can respond to the interest we’ve received,” said 14BIS Supply Tracking CEO and Co-Founder Eleanor Mitch.“Our role is to secure the global aviation supply chain, assuring customers that every physical part and every digital element of even the most highly complex systems is accounted for, traceable and safe.”

“The MassVentures’ START program illustrates the Commonwealth’s commitment to advancing innovative technologies and fostering local economic growth,” said Boston Engineering Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer Mark Smithers. “We will use our START grant to accelerate manufacturability enhancements and business development efforts for our technology to improve hurricane forecasting.

“This MassVentures START program award will facilitate commercial-scale trials of ePAINT’s photoactive, biofouling-release coating with our partners in the aquaculture, fishing, and boating industries,” said ePaint Company Co-Founder Myles A Walsh.“Successful trials will indicate a promising launch and the potential for mainstream marketing of our sustainable, environmentally friendly solution to the biofouling problem.”

“The MassVentures START award is critical to Giner in accelerating development of an advanced prototype, which will allow for field testing,” said Giner, Inc. CEO Dr. Cortney Mittelsteadt, Ph.D.

“We are delighted and honored to receive this award fromMassVentures,” said Inkbit Co-Founder and CEO Davide Marini.“The START funding will support the critical transition of our system from prototype to commercial product. This will enable Inkbit to broaden its reach and accelerate commercialization.”

“Funding from the MassVentures START program will be critical for the accelerated development of our high-throughput discovery platform to unlock next-generation cell therapies,” said Kytopen CEO and Co-Founder Paulo A. Garcia, Ph.D.

“We at Loci are honored to have the support from MassVenturesto continue our work to add value to our customers, and have a significant impact in reducing greenhouse gas emissions globally,” said Loci Controls, Inc. CEO and Chairman Peter Quigley. “Landfill gas emissions are estimated by the EPA to represent just under 2% of total domestic Greenhouse Gas Emissions. Using Loci’s automated landfill gas collection system, has demonstrated reduced Greenhouse gas emissions from landfills by 50% or more. The START program will provide critical support as we work to gain commercial scale and traction in the landfill gas to energy market.”

“The START program will be instrumental in helping Lumme engage with Massachusetts-based marketing agencies and enables us to launch our product to the corporate wellness market,” said Lumme CEO Akshaya Shanmugam, Ph.D. “Lumme’s association with MassVentures and this award drastically escalates our ability to create impact with our cutting-edge technology.”

“This MassVentures Start grant will allow us to upgrade our manufacturing equipment to produce larger-scale samples of nanoMesh for customer evaluation,” said MicroContinuum, Inc. Founder and President Dr. Dennis Slafer. “This will enable us to focus on our commercialization efforts while also helping to keep manufacturing here in Massachusetts.”

“People who have had an early chance to work with Pendar X10 are excited about a Raman identification system that does not require close proximity to potentially dangerous chemicals, explosives and narcotics such as fentanyl,” said Pendar Technologies CEO and Founder Dr. Daryoosh Vakshoori. “First responder safety was a prime concern when we designed Pendar X10. The MassVentures START program award will help us expedite our product introduction, bringing new levels of safety to the field with a shorter timeline.”

“Our company’s growth has and will continue to benefit from MassVentures START funds,” said Remote Sensing Solutions, Inc. CEO Mike Fernandes. “The funds will enable us to demonstrate a new technology to our customers that will open new markets for micro underwater unmanned vehicles.”

The MassVentures START (SBIR Targeted Technologies) program ensures growing Massachusetts-based companies are able to commercialize technologies developed under SBIR and STTR contracts.  The program is executed in three one-year stages to provide increasing financial rewards to the companies that demonstrate progress on the path toward commercialization.

At the outset of Stage I, twelve companies are selected to each receive $100,000 in funding. Over the course of the next year, each company, with advice and coaching provided by MassVentures and the START ecosystem, strives to execute on its product commercialization strategy.  After that year, up to six of the original twelve winners are selected by an expert panel to each receive $200,000 grants.  At the conclusion of the second year, the judges choose two companies to each receive $500,000.

The START program received the prestigious 2015 Tibbetts Award from the U.S. Small Business Administration. More information on the START program and the MassVentures 5 Year START Report can be found at www.mass-ventures.com/start-program/.

2019 START Program Stage I Winners:

14bis Supply Tracking improves safety and transparency in aviation supply chains. The company’s proprietary technology helps aerospace and defense supply chain customers track both physical parts and digital data securely over different software systems and tagging technologies. The result is greater insight and control with instantaneous situational awareness and auditability-on-demand: tracking all physical parts in an airplane, or tracking different data formats for IoT systems and improve data management. The result is the Supply Chain of Trust.

Boston Engineering’s MASED enhances hurricane forecasting by collecting ocean readings via multiple submerge-and-surface cycles. By contrast, traditional dropsonde technology is costly and is limited to a single storm reading.

ePaint Company® is a marine coatings company that specializes in environmentally friendly solutions for biofouling control.  When exposed to sunlight, ePAINT’s photoactive coating uses novel photo-catalysts in a bio-based, polymer matrix to prevent biofouling on underwater surfaces. Commercial applications for ePAINT’s non-toxic, biofouling-control solution include: netting used for fish farming, bags and cages for shellfish farming (oysters, scallops, and clams), barrier nets, floating upweller systems (FLUPSY), fishing nets and traps, oceanographic equipment, and boat hulls.

Giner, Inc., a technology development organization located in Newton, MA, has developed a sensor for detecting THC in saliva. THC is the active agent in marijuana, and is implicated in roadside testing of suspected users. More accurate, faster and less expensive than current solutions, Giner’s technology also avoids false positives common to those solutions, eliminating a major prosecutorial hurdle.  This technology is desperately needed by law enforcement as legalization is leading to greater marijuana use amongst drivers.

Inkbit is developing a new 3D printing system that relies on machine vision and artificial intelligence to achieve a step change improvement in process quality, reliability and cost. Its technology enables customers to produce end-use parts at industrial scales.

Kytopen Corporation is an MIT startup aiming to transform the gene-modified cell therapy industry from discovery to commercialization, allowing important living medicines to be developed reliably and faster. Kytopen’s proprietary Flowfect™ platforms have shown non-viral delivery of molecules into hard-to-engineer cells and demonstrated an ability to process a therapeutic amount of cells in seconds. The scalable Flowfect™ solutions combine electric fields, microfluidics and automation for easier, faster, and more cost-effective cell processing than the state-of-the art solutions that will accelerate the time-to-market of next-generation gene-modified cell therapies from target discovery to therapeutic manufacturing.

Loci Controls, Inc. is a leader in automated landfill gas collection. Loci utilizes patent-pending technology and control algorithms to monitor and control the landfill gas-collection process.  Through constant innovation and market expertise, Loci Controls’ products are trusted by landfill and power plant operators to increase revenue, mitigate risks, ensure regulatory compliance, and rejuvenate under-performing wells

Lumme, Inc. is a digital health company that is developing a continuous health monitoring & behavior change platform. Its technology platform leverages machine learning, wearable devices, and behavioral psychology to revolutionize the way addictions is detected and treated. Its 1st product is a clinically validated smoking cessation platform that can automatically detect smoking gestures, predict a relapse, and prevent it by delivering just-in-time interventions. In order to make the largest economic and social impact, they are offering the product to employers to help their employees quit smoking.

MicroContinuum, Inc. (MCI) is the developer of advanced technology and manufacturing systems for producing nano-scale structures on flexible and rigid materials.  Its nanoMesh™ transparent conductive film is a breakthrough technology for producing patterns of metal lines that are virtually invisible–below 1 micron wide. nanoMesh is applicable to very large and growing markets, such as bendable, flexible and wearable displays; energy harvesting and photovoltaics; solid-state lighting and smart windows.

Pendar Technologies is creating intelligent chemistry systems. The company’s new Pendar X10™ offers breakthrough, standoff (up to 3 feet) Raman chemical identification for Explosive Ordinance Disposal, Hazardous Materials, Narcotics, Forensics, Materials Analysis and other industries. Pendar X10 can mitigate fluorescence (for example, to identify fentanyl) and has minimal ignition risk with black powder and potentially explosive substances. Simple point-and-shoot technology requires little training and delivers results within seconds.

Remote Sensing Solutions Inc. is the maker of ARENA, an ultra-low size, weight and power reconfigurable digital subsystem responsible for the waveform generation, complex signal processing and data acquisition, a software defined radar, is now utilizing the capabilities of ARENA in sonar. The company is taking algorithms being utilized in a planetary landing sensor to provide guidance in micro unmanned underwater vehicles. This technology will enable new opportunities for micro unmanned underwater vehicles currently not available.

2019 START Program Stage II Winners:

Battery Resourcers, Inc. is committed to changing the dynamics for processing end of life lithium ion batteries. Most lithium ion batteries are landfilled. If they are recycled, only the metal value from the batteries is recovered. Battery Resourcers proprietary process directly synthesizes new cathode materials from spent lithium ion cells. Battery Resourcers manufactures and delivers low-cost cathode materials to the lithium ion battery market, enabling green technologies and resulting in less landfilled material.

C-2 Innovations, Inc. designs and builds all-weather amphibious robots for monitoring, sampling and mapping various sea-floor terrains. Systems include the Sea Otter, Sea Ox, Mudskipper, and Drifter. The Crawlers’ all-weather, high sea-state capability and shore-side self-deployment and recovery opens the window for persistent, long-duration, high-fidelity sampling and mapping.

Physical Sciences Inc. has developed a low cost, rapid coating technology that allows for lower cost, higher energy density batteries.  START funding will support the development of high performance specialty batteries leveraging this technology for the unmanned vehicle markets.

Quantum Diamond Technologies, Inc. (QDTI) is using its unique quantum sensing technology to create a novel, magnetic-based detection platform that will enable rapid, simple, low cost and ultrasensitive diagnostics instruments for the Life Sciences, Central Lab and Point of Care environments.

TelAztec LLC has developed and manufactures its patented “RANDOM” type anti-reflection (RAR) nano-textures that are nanometer scale textures etched directly into the bulk optical material that provide extreme optical performance with no added absorption, unsurpassed laser damage threshold levels, and extended lifetimes for high energy laser optics.

Uniqarta, Inc. is commercializing ultra-high-speed microLED placement for next generation displays offering superior picture quality and greatly reduced power consumption. Uniqarta’s Laser Enabled Advanced Placement (LEAP™) technology replaces conventional pick-and-place assembly methods with an ultra-fast, massively parallel laser technique. These technologies give electronics manufacturers the means to build next-generation products never before possible.

2019 START Program Stage III Winners:

Eutropics is a biomarker discovery and clinical diagnostics laboratory that develops novel functional clinical diagnostic tests that recognize unique features of cancer cells from individual patients. The information indicates if that patient is likely to have a meaningful response to a given drug treatment. Test results are provided to pharmaceutical companies and used to select patients into clinical trials, or to oncology clinicians to help them select best treatment options for their cancer patients.

Massachusetts Materials Technologies LLC (MMT) has developed the Hardness, Strength and Ductility (HSD) Tester – a revolutionary, portable, non-destructive testing instrument to measure metal strength.  There is a need for instruments that identify the strength left in aging metals as well as quality assurance for construction of new metal structures.  MMT has launched an initial testing service for the 300,000 miles of high-pressure oil and gas metal pipelines that are critical to transfer energy safely and efficiently across the United States.

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About MassVentures

MassVentures is a quasi-public venture capital firm focused on fueling the Commonwealth’s innovation economy by funding early-stage, high-growth Massachusetts startups as they move from concept to commercialization. MassVentures also awards funding through its award winning START (SBIR Targeted Technologies) program, which helps growing Massachusetts-based companies commercialize technologies developed under SBIR and STTR contracts.

About MassCEC
The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) is a state economic development agency dedicated to accelerating the growth of the clean energy sector across the Commonwealth to spur job creation, deliver statewide environmental benefits and to secure long-term economic growth for the people of Massachusetts. MassCEC works to increase the adoption of clean energy while driving down costs and delivering financial, environmental, and economic development benefits to energy users and utility customers across the state. Its mission is to grow the state’s clean energy economy while helping to meet the Commonwealth’s clean energy, climate and economic development goals.
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