MASSVENTURES PRESIDENT TESTIFIES AT CONGRESSIONAL HEARING, URGES REAUTHORIZATION OF SBIR/STTR PROGRAMS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 8, 2016

CONTACT: Jerry Bird, 617-723-4920, jbird@mass-ventures.com

LYNN- MassVentures President Jerry Bird today offered testimony to the U.S. House of Representatives Small Business Committee. Appearing before the Subcommittee on Contracting and Workforce hearing on Commercializing on Innovation: Reauthorizing the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer Programs, Bird urged the reauthorization of the SBIR/STTR programs:

“The SBIR/STTR programs have played a vital role in harnessing the immense human capital of Massachusetts’ higher education, medical and research institutions. The SBIR and STTR programs provide opportunities to small firms to create great ideas but are unable to attract traditional venture capital funding or need seed funding to pursue those projects that the private sector has decided are too high-risk or not lucrative enough. However, it’s exactly these high-risk, high-reward projects that truly drive innovation in Massachusetts.”

Bird also offered Massachusetts’ START program as a national model for how states can best leverage federal investment through the SBIR/STTR programs.

“We believe the START program should serve as a national model for how states can best leverage the federal government’s investment through the SBIR/STTR program. The SBIR/STTR programs are essential in order to allow American scientists and researchers to innovate, invent and discover the technologies of tomorrow. But states must also do their part to build on progress made through SBIR/STTR funding and ensure those technologies of tomorrow are not always a day away.”

Bird’s full testimony as prepared for delivery follow below.

***AS PREPARED FOR DELIVERY***

Testimony of Jerry Bird, President of MassVentures

March 8, 2016

U.S. House Small Business Committee

Subcommittee on Contracting and the Workforce

Field Hearing- Commercializing on Innovation: Reauthorizing the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer Programs Part II

I want to thank Chairman Chabot, Ranking Member Velazquez, Chairman Hanna and Congressman Moulton for inviting me to testify today on the critical need to reauthorize the SBIR/STTR program.

My name is Jerry Bird and I am the President of 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. We were honored to receive the prestigious Tibbetts Award in 2015 from the U.S. Small Business Administration, recognizing our significant role in driving innovation and creating new jobs through the SBIR and STTR programs.

As is often the case here in Massachusetts, when MassVentures was formed 38 years ago, we were the first program of our kind in the country. Our model and our mission to provide start-ups with early funding; guidance in operational, finance and sales, and; position them for additional rounds of funding from the traditional venture capital community has now been replicated throughout the country and across the world.

In our 38 years, MassVentures’ portfolio companies have raised $1.1 billion in additional funding; directly created 7500 jobs in Massachusetts, and; 16 MassVentures backed companies have gone public. In many cases, the companies we’ve been able to invest in and help grow got their start through SBIR/STTR funding.

The SBIR/STTR programs have played a vital role in harnessing the immense human capital of Massachusetts’ higher education, medical and research institutions. The SBIR and STTR programs provide opportunities to small firms to create great ideas but are unable to attract traditional venture capital funding or need seed funding to pursue those projects that the private sector has decided are too high-risk or not lucrative enough. However, it’s exactly these high-risk, high-reward projects that truly drive innovation in Massachusetts.

There is no question SBIR/STTR has been effective in allowing concepts to begin the road to commercialization. But even after two years of funding, many companies weren’t ready. Research was still ongoing. Prototypes needed testing. Or often the company’s founders weren’t ready to juggle innovation with the everyday demands of operations, finance and sales. It’s hard to master your elevator pitch when you’re spending all your time in a lab trying to create something that’s never been created before, or attempting to solve a problem long thought un-solvable.

The federal government had played its role. SBIR/STTR had brought many companies to the verge of commercialization. But there were still too many instances where we were left asking “what could’ve been.”

A gap remained.

In 2012, we created the SBIR Targeted Technologies program- START- to bridge that gap and ensure growing Massachusetts-based companies would be able to commercialize technologies developed under SBIR and STTR contracts. Recognizing that innovation, invention, disruption take time, the START program provides up to three additional years of funding for SBIR/STTR projects. Stage I companies are awarded $100,000 grants. Stage II companies receive $200,000 and Stage III companies receive up to an additional $500,000. The most successful START applicants can receive a total of up to $800,000.

In just four years, START has provided $9 million in grant funding to 40 deserving SBIR projects. START companies have raised additional capital of $138 million and seen a 30% employee growth. MassVentures has created an ecosystem of more than 200 companies, reviewers, service providers and advisors.

Energid started as a robotic software company serving almost exclusively NASA and the Department of Defense. However, it was clear there was a broader application for their software and expertise in robotics. The company took the risk of creating small arm-sized robots to demonstrate the power and potential of its software. In 2013, MassVentures awarded Energid a Phase I START grant.

Energid sold their robots to early adaptors and is now in discussion with major global corporations and poised to sell thousands of units. Technology which had been developed to control lunar excavation for NASA is now being used to drill for oil in the North Sea, conduct surgery and even pick oranges. A Massachusetts-based software company, supported through MassVentures and START, Energid has emerged as one of the world’s leading robotic technology companies.

START has also proven that innovation can happen anywhere. While we evaluate START applicants through our prism as investment professionals, there is nonetheless a remarkable geographic diversity among START companies. Companies outside Boston and Cambridge that might have otherwise lacked the time, resources, support or network necessary for success now have it.

There are START companies in Barnstable, Canton, Charlton, Chelmsford, Georgetown, Littleton, Newburyport, Wakefield and Wilbraham. These companies have the potential to be economic anchors in their communities, spurring much needed revitalization and attracting new businesses and residents. Without SBIR/STTR, these companies likely never would have begun; without START these companies likely never would have survived.

Just as MassVentures was, we believe the START program should serve as a national model for how states can best leverage the federal government’s investment through the SBIR/STTR program. The SBIR/STTR programs are essential in order to allow American scientists and researchers to innovate, invent and discover the technologies of tomorrow. But states must also do their part to build on progress made through SBIR/STTR funding and ensure those technologies of tomorrow are not always a day away.

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MassVentures START Program RFP Opens Today, 3/1/16

March 1, 2016

Request for Proposals

For MassVentures START (SBIR TARgeted Technologies) Program Stage I Grants

MassVentures hereby invites all Massachusetts companies that meet the new, expanded eligibility criteria set forth below to submit applications to its START program for Stage I grants.

What is START?

START is a program funded by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to assist Massachusetts companies that have received at least the equivalent of a Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (“SBIR”) or Small Business Technology Transfer (“STTR”) grant to commercialize their technologies. The program was created to assist high growth companies that will expand employment opportunities, promote manufacturing and commercialization, and stimulate innovation across the Commonwealth.

 Who is eligible?

Any Massachusetts company whose application to the program is not based on pharmaceutical, therapeutic or medical device technology and has received a Phase II SBIR.

We are pleased to announce that, for the first time, proposals based on clean energy, alternative energy and other energy technologies are eligible to apply for START.

There is no strict requirement about when the qualifying Phase II SBIR was received. However, if it was received prior to March 1, 2012, you should explain in your application why it remains commercially relevant today.

A “Massachusetts company” is one that conducts its research, development, manufacturing and commercialization primarily in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and for the purposes of this program commits to continuing to do so. It is expected that START funds will be spent primarily in Massachusetts.

How do I apply?

A detailed description of the application process is located at https://www.mass-ventures.com/start-program/#tab-id-5

When is the Deadline for Applications?

The deadline for submitting applications is Monday, April 4, 2016, at 12:00 pm EST.

How Do I Get More Information?

Many of your questions will be answered on our website, https://www.mass-ventures.com/start-program/. Please make sure to review the full START section, including our Frequently Asked Questions page. If you have further questions after reviewing these pages, please contact the START Program Manager, John Fitzpatrick, at jfitzpatrick@mass-ventures.com.   In addition, MassVentures will be conducting a conference call on Wednesday, March 16, 2016 at 2:00 pm at which potential applicants can ask us questions about the START Program and the Stage I application and selection process. The dial in information for that call is below:

When:             Wednesday, March 16, 2016 at 2:00 pm

Call-in Info:    Dial in #862-902-0240; Pin #7551599

PDF Version of RFP

START Funding Eligibility Expands to Include Energy Technologies

MassVentures is pleased to announce that, for the first time, proposals based on clean energy, alternative energy and other energy technologies are eligible to apply for START! The 2016 START RFP will be available on March 1, 2016 at https://www.mass-ventures.com/start-program/.

The SBIR Targeted Technologies (START) program helps growing Massachusetts-based companies commercialize technologies developed under SBIR and STTR contracts. The START program plays an important role in powering Massachusetts’ Innovation Economy.

START is a program funded by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to assist Massachusetts companies that have previously secured SBIR Phase II funding in turning their technologies into promising commercialized solutions. The program was created to assist high-growth companies that will grow employment opportunities, promote manufacturing and commercialization, and stimulate innovation across the Commonwealth.

The primary objective of the program is to provide funding to commercialization-ready technology companies that have received at least the equivalent of a Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (“SBIR”) or Small Business Technology Transfer (“STTR”) grant from federal agencies such as the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy, or the National Science Foundation, to name three.

Please see https://www.mass-ventures.com/start-program/ for more information.

MassVentures Backs Growth at Content Raven with Follow-on Investment

New Funding will Enable Content Raven to Meet Market Demands for Sales, Training and Entertainment & Media Solutions

MassVentures today announced a repeat investment in Content Raven, the leader in global secure content engagement.  Content Raven announced a 3x increase in revenue year-over-year, from 2014 to 2015. The growth is fueled by a strong increase in new enterprise customers of its secure content engagement solutions for sales, training and media and intellectual property creation. MassVentures, along with Nauta Capital responded to this increased market interest in Content Raven with new investments in the company. Content Raven will use the funding to rapidly scale its sales and marketing efforts.

“Every enterprise struggles to securely deliver up-to-date content and video around the globe, to any device. Content Raven’s Cloud-based solution solves that challenge universally,” said Joe Moriarty, CEO of Content Raven.  “Sales, training and entertainment & media departments in particular create large amounts of high-value content and have a specific need to share it easily and securely. MassVentures has been with us from the beginning and has recognized our successes. We are thrilled that they are continuing to support us with capital to more aggressively target these markets.”

“Our new investment in Content Raven is a result of the confidence we have in the leadership team and the company’s content engagement platform,” said Nick Pappas, vice president at MassVentures. “No other company has a solution this well-equipped to meet enterprise needs for secure, simple and effective sharing of content and video across multiple devices. We believe the company is well-positioned with its solution-focused strategy to continue its aggressive growth rates in the coming year.”

About Content Raven

Content Raven’s global, secure content engagement solution empowers enterprise sales, marketing, media production and corporate training organizations to safely deliver video, documents, and other content to any device, anywhere. The company’s cloud-based solution helps organizations manage, track, and analyze user engagement with content. Content Raven’s customers are some of the largest companies in the world, including EMC, Mondelez International and VMware. The company is recognized as a SBANE Innovation Award – Rising Star – 2014, and is on the Red Herring Top 100 North America Tech Startups List. The company is headquartered in Hopkinton, MA. Learn more at www.contentraven.com.

First-time Founders Fuel Growing Boston Marketing-Tech Space with Funding from MassVentures

MassVentures, The State of Massachusetts’ VC arm, announced today that it has participated in the latest round of funding for Jebbit. The Boston-based company works with clients such as Dell, EMC and Reebok to more efficiently engage and convert potential consumers with interactive quizzes, content and more.

Jebbit’s solution requires no code integration and powers marketing goals like brand awareness, user acquisition, eCommerce sales, and lead generation with an interactive experience that overlays landing pages, videos, and other content. The questions incentivize consumers to learn more about the brand with a reward, such as a discount, and allow brands to collect valuable information about their audience.

“One of our focuses at MassVentures’ is to support promising, first-time entrepreneurs. Both Tom Coburn and Jonathan Lacoste are a perfect fit for us. Jebbit has been very successful in filling a real void for companies that need to better engage their customers post-click,” said Nick Pappas, Vice President, MassVentures. “The simplicity and versatility of the Jebbit platform is very exciting and we look forward to helping these exceptional entrepreneurs scale the business.”

Jebbit is the second investment MassVentures has made in the growing Massachusetts’ marketing/advertising technology space, following a previous investment in OwnerIQ. For an overview of the innovation happening in the local ad-tech and marketing-tech space, see the infographic that Jebbit created below.

bostonlumascape2

 

“We are pleased with the progress we have made to date helping leading brands develop successful post-click marketing strategies. This added investment, along with the support and mentoring from Nick and the MassVentures’ team, will help drive momentum well into 2016,” adds Tom Coburn, Jebbit CEO and Founder.

MassVentures Invests in MachineMetrics to Support Advanced Manufacturing in Northampton, MA

We are pleased to announce that MassVentures has invested in MachineMetrics, a company that develops production monitoring software for the manufacturing industry. MachineMetrics, based in Northhampton, MA, addresses the need for manufacturing companies to have greater visibility into their production processes.

Long River Ventures, a firm managing more than $70 million in capital, led the round along with MassVentures. Since receiving the funding the team has doubled in size and plans are to remain in Northampton, MA. In addition, the funding will help MachineMetrics further accelerate its rapid development and growth trajectory.

“Massachusetts is committed to growing our statewide advanced manufacturing cluster,” said Jay Ash, Secretary of Housing and Economic Development for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. “Massachusetts manufacturing companies will continue to grow by having the capital available to invest in leading edge technology, equipment and their teams to ensure continued success.”

This is a testament to the MassVentures’ commitment to fueling innovative technology companies that are outside the perimeter of typical venture capital investments,” said Jennifer Jordan, Vice President of MassVentures. “By partnering with Long River Ventures and understanding the needs of entrepreneurs in the Pioneer Valley we are able to provide them the capital, connections and mentoring they need to prosper and excel here in Massachusetts.”

“Partnering with both local investors and the State of Massachusetts through MassVentures will provide us the capital and guidance to accelerate our momentum and help us support our growing customer base of small to mid-sized manufacturers,” concludes MachineMetrics CEO Bill Bither. “It is our goal to penetrate the local manufacturing community with MachineMetrics technology to provide them a competitive advantage and therefore help the entire Massachusetts manufacturing industry succeed.”

About MachineMetrics, Inc.
MachineMetrics, Inc. develops real-time production monitoring software for manufacturing companies. Headquartered in Northampton, Massachusetts, the company was founded by William Bither, Eric Fogg, and Jacob Lauzier in 2014. More information can be found on the company’s website, http://www.machinemetrics.com.

MassVentures-backed TerraTherm Acquired by Cascade Drilling

Successful exit to help spur new investments across the Commonwealth

We are pleased to announce that MassVentures-backed TerraTherm has been acquired by Cascade Drilling. With the acquisition, the Gardner MA-based company will deliver thermal remediation technologies more broadly and launch organizational and technological advancement to better serve its clients.

MassVentures has established a track record of successfully funding innovative technology companies in Massachusetts that are not adequately served by the venture community, including companies located statewide, “outside the box” industries and first time CEOs and/or founders. Gains realized from this investment will in part be used to further fuel the technology industry and economic development across the Commonwealth.

“The team at TerraTherm is a fantastic example of what Massachusetts-based entrepreneurs can accomplish when working hard and utilizing the resources available to them in the community,” said Nick Pappas, Vice President of MassVentures. “Congratulations to the entire team, their hard work and persistence delivered a great outcome!”

“We didn’t reach this milestone alone. From the beginning, as first-time entrepreneurs, MassVentures provided us with not only the financial backing but with the advice, connections and the guidance needed to succeed in the emerging market of thermal remediation technologies. They were an invaluable resource that remained patient as we scaled the organization.  We can’t thank them enough as we move to the next stage of growth,” concludes John Bierschenk, CEO and President of TerraTherm.

MassVentures Awards $1M to 2015 START Stage III Program Winners

START Program Spurs Growth for Winners 
Boston Engineering and Metamagnetics 
MassVentures announced today the 2015 START Stage III program winners. Each company has received $500,000 to help grow employment opportunities, promote manufacturing and commercialization, and stimulate innovation across the Commonwealth. The winners of the Stage III awards are:
Boston Engineering
Boston Engineering is a product development and engineering consulting company that is using its START funds to commercialize its underwater vehicle technology, including the BIOSwimmer™. Boston Engineering’s unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) systems replicate the dynamics of a biological fish to move rapidly and accurately in areas inaccessible by other vehicles for operations including port security, and underwater search and inspection. Waltham, MA.
Metamagnetics
Metamagnetics develops and markets leading-edge commercial and defense electronic products. It is using its START funds to deploy cost-effective, self-biased ferrite circulators, which reduce electromagnetic interference in dense communication and sensing environments. Canton, MA.
START is a $3 million annual State initiative administered by MassVentures to help growing Massachusetts-based companies commercialize technologies developed under Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) contracts.
During the past three years, Boston Engineering has increased its revenues 52% and has expanded its workforce 22%. START funds contribute to Boston Engineering’s outside investment of $7 million to help commercialize its underwater technology. Over the past 4 years, Metamagnetics has grown revenues by 60%, increased employment by 140% and leverages their START funds into $2,470,000 in additional outside capital.
“Boston Engineering thrives on solving client challenges and making a difference in the way that people work and live. It’s through programs such as START that we can take our creative ideas and bring them through to commercialization,” said Mark Smithers, CTO of Boston Engineering. “We’re very thankful to MassVentures for this funding, recognition, and the expertise they have provided to help scale our technology during the past three years.”
“We are focused on enhancing the performance and driving down the cost of critical sensing, Earth science and communication systems. Remaining focused on our technology and scaling the company can only happen when you have the right mentoring and guidance surrounding you,” comments Anton Geiler, President of Metamagnetics. “In addition to the funding, MassVentures has provided just the right amount of support and guidance to help us scale and thrive.  We look forward to the continued partnership.”
“The START program is a significant recognition. For the past four years, Boston Engineering and Metamagnetics competed against some of the most promising companies in Massachusetts,” said Jerry Bird, President of MassVentures. “This award is a testament to not only the technology they have created but the business opportunity ahead for each of them.”
For more details on the program, eligibility requirements and the application and granting process for 2016, please visit our website.

MassVentures Jumps in to Support BoardOnTrack

MassVentures announced it participated in a $1.7 million seed round in BoardOnTrack. The finance round included MassVentures, Launch Capital, Hub NY and Cherrystone Angel group. BoardOnTrack, founded by a strong management team with significant start-up and consulting expertise, has developed a web-based, cost-effective and convenient way to build and optimize charter school boards using a data-driven approach.

BoardOnTrack is from the inaugural class of Constant Contact’s new small businessInnoLoft, an accelerator focused on small business innovations. It was here that BoardOnTrack refined its business and prepared itself for scalable growth.  “It’s a great time to be part of the Boston tech ecosystem. We started in Constant Contact’s InnoLoft where we positioned ourselves for growth and have since formed a strong partnership with MassVentures,” said Marci Cornell-Feist, Chief Executive Officer at BoardOnTrack. “With both the financial and knowledge support we have received to date, we can now focus on growing our product offerings and broadening our position in the market. We’re thankful for the funding and expertise that the MassVentures’ team has provided.”

 BoardOnTrack enables volunteers to work strategically and efficiently to transform charter schools and non-profit organizations across the country. Utilizing BoardOnTrack’s web-based tools, boards are able to develop goals and track accountability, optimize board performance, monitor progress and assess accomplishments at year end.

“After a thorough market analysis, it was quite clear that BoardOnTrack’s comprehensive, data-driven solution was filling a real need in the market, and is a key component in optimizing board performance,” said Nick Pappas, Vice President at MassVentures.  “Marci and her team have demonstrated domain knowledge that is unparalleled in the industry and are poised to scale BoardOnTrack.  We look forward to supporting their continued success.”

Ginkgo Bioworks Secures $45 Million to Support Next Stage of Growth

Ginkgo Bioworks announced that it has raised $45 million in an oversubscribed Series B round. Ginkgo Bioworks is at the intersection of industrial design and biology, delivering designer organisms built to specification for customers. The company specializes in engineering microbes to produce cultured ingredients such as flavors, fragrances, cosmetics and sweeteners. The latest round of funding will be used to expand to new product categories and build out the next phase of its state-of-the-art foundry in Boston.

Ginkgo Bioworks first received local funding from the MassVentures’ START program which supports the commercialization of Massachusetts-based companies developed under SBIR contracts. The company continued to demonstrate growth against its objectives, and over the next two years received additional START funds.  Recently, MassVentures invested in Ginkgo Bioworks’ first round of equity financing via its Traditional Fund to capitalize on these SBIR and START funds.

“The most recent round of funding clearly demonstrates the success of the START program,” commented Jerry Bird, President of MassVentures.  “The START funding in addition to the funds received from the MassVentures traditional fund, provided the company the chance to commercialize its technology and ready itself for significant growth and funding. We are pleased to see the progress the team at Ginkgo Bioworks has made in this exciting and critical new industry and look forward to its continued success in the burgeoning Massachusetts biotech industry.”

Viking Global, a firm managing more than $30 billion in capital, led the round along with previous investors including OS Fund, Y Combinator and Felicis Ventures. The new funds will be used to expand into new categories such as pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and probiotics, as well as hire additional employees and build out Bioworks 2, the next generation of Ginkgo’s robotic Foundry.

“MassVentures has been with us from the start, arming us with the capital, experience, mentoring and network to help our transition to a high-growth company,” said Reshma Shetty, Co-founder at Ginkgo Bioworks. “The START program is critical for SBIR-funded companies that need this type of support to move from a research-driven company to commercialization. We thank them for their support and expect a fruitful partnership moving forward.”