2016 START Program Winners

by James Chisholm

MassVentures Awards 2016 START Program Winners

$3,000,000 to be awarded to 17 cutting edge Massachusetts companies

MassVentures today announced the 2016 START (SBIR Targeted Technologies) program winners with $3,000,000 in grant funding to be awarded to 17 cutting edge Massachusetts companies. The grants will allow the companies, which had previously received SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) grants from federal agencies and departments including the Army, National Cancer Institute, National Institute of Health, NASA and the Navy, to grow employment opportunities, promote manufacturing and commercialization, and stimulate innovation across the Commonwealth.

Now in its fifth year, the START program has awarded $12 million to 50 Massachusetts SBIR Phase II companies. The 2016 START winners include companies in Andover, Barnstable, Boston, Cambridge, Chelmsford, Medford, Newburyport, Newton, Somerville, Wakefield, West Boylston and Woburn. Two additional Stage I winners remain to be announced.

“The START program is a unique feeder system to MassVentures and the venture community that fosters growth of companies and readies them for venture funding,” said Jerry Bird, President, MassVentures. “MassVentures helps companies like Ginkgo BioWorks capitalize on their SBIR funds and arm them with the capital, experience, mentoring and network they need to transition to high-growth companies.”

“The START Program help companies bridge the gap between innovation and commercialization, supporting research, development, and manufacturing jobs inMassachusetts,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash. “Investments in revolutionary companies and products supports the continued growth of the Commonwealth’s creative and innovative sectors, and will help us maintain our position as a world leader in new technology.”

2016 START Program Stage I Winners ($100,000)

  • Cambrian Innovation
  • Levant Power Corporation
  • Modular Genetics, Inc.
  • MTPV Power Corporation
  • NewGrid, Inc.
  • Pendar Technologies
  • Physical Sciences, Inc.
  • SimulConsult, Inc.

2016 START Program Stage II Winners ($200,000)

  • Barrett Technology
  • Coventry Associates, LLC
  • Primaira, LLC
  • Remote Sensing Solutions, Inc.
  • Visible Good

2016 START Program Stage III Winners ($500,000)

  • Persimmon Technologies Corp.
  • Triton Systems, Inc.


Stage I – Physical Sciences Inc. – Andover

Physical Sciences Inc. (PSI) of Andover, MA has been awarded a Stage I START grant to further its work on the IDtector Radiation Portal Monitor (iRPM) for homeland security applications. According to William J. Marinelli, PSI’s Executive Vice President for Defense Systems, “START funding allows PSI to leverage our government technology development funding to produce the commercial first-article for customer acceptance testing.”


Stage II -Remote Sensing Solutions, Inc. – Barnstable

Remote Sensing Solutions, Inc. (RSS) of Barnstable, MA has been named a START Stage II winner for their radar digital subsystems work. Dr. James Carswell, President of RSS, said, “START is providing us with essential funding and guidance to commercialize our ARENA technology – a game changing solution for radar digital subsystems. Through this program, not only will RSS bring its ARENA product to market which we believe will benefit our customers, but RSS will achieve significant growth allowing us to create high value jobs to our local communities here on Cape Cod and to Massachusetts.”


Stage I – Cambrian Innovation -Boston, MA

Stage I START winner Cambrian Innovation is developing simple distributed installations to extract resources like clean energy and clean water from wastewater. According to Matt Silver, Founder & CEO of Cambrian Innovation, “The START program allows us to take our flagship product, the EcoVolt® Reactor, through the next stage of development and accelerate progress on optimization and cost reduction for the second generation of EcoVolt.”


Stage I -Pendar Technologies – Cambridge

Pendar Technologies of Cambridge, MA has been awarded funding through the START Stage I competition for continuation of their work in Quantum Technologies for Aircraft Protection (Q-TAP). “For Pendar Technologies, the START program allows us to manufacture and deliver more than the one or two prototypes and grow our business.  Thanks to START, Pendar can now push to capture and grow a market that is sizable by leveraging these resources into real integrated products,” said CFO Seamus Fogarty.


Stage III Triton Systems, Inc. – Chelmsford

Triton Systems, Inc. of Chelmsford, MA has been selected for the highly coveted START Stage III grant funding for their Traceptor technology that enables chemical sensors for threat and contraband detection. Said CEO Ross Haghighat, “the START program has been essential in helping Triton Systems Inc. progress a newly developed technology to a promising product platform. START Stages I and II enabled Triton to pursue trials leading to its adoption by a cornerstone customer, as well as allowing identification of key markets for our product. Stage III funding will provide the means to implement manufacturing infrastructure and quality systems critical for commercial success. START was a true partner in this journey, a unique supportive funding source that understands the development cycle for novel technology and allowed this Massachusetts company to shorten it’s product development cycle by at least 2 years in order to meet an immediate market need. “


Stage I – MTPV Power Corp. – Medford

MTPV Power Corporation of Medford, MA is awarded funding for its project to produce electric power from industrial waste heat. “MTPV Power Corporation is excited and honored to be named a MassVentures 2016 START Program Stage I winner.   The START Program is an invaluable resource for high growth companies in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts looking to commercialize innovative technologies,” said MTPV’s President & CEO David Mather. “The funding and support provided by the START Program is integral to the successful development and commercialization of our groundbreaking waste heat to electricity conversion technology. With the support of the START program we will help meet the world’s energy demands more effectively and efficiently while having a positive impact on our environment to stimulate economic growth and innovation across the Commonwealth.”


Stage II – Visible Good – Newburyport

Visible Good of Newburyport, MA has been awarded START Stage II funding for their Rapidly Deployable Lightweight Shelter. “The MA Ventures START program has afforded Visible Good multiple advantages that would not have been realized without this valuable opportunity.  The program has supported us financially while also creating valued relationships, ongoing mentoring opportunities and a real “think-tank” environment.  Visible Good will be demonstrating its Shelter System among the Best in Class at Quantico, VA this September due to the added resources the START program is providing.  In 2016, Visible Good expects to complete certification as a Women Owned company and achieve full commercialization,” said Founding Partner, Tina Newman.


 Stage II – Barrett Technology -Newton, MA

Barrett Technology of Newton, MA wins START Stage II Funding for its Puck® Ultraminiature Brushless-Motor Controller. “We won the START grant at an absolutely pivotal moment in which a multinational company was considering investing in Barrett,” said William Townsend, President & CEO. “The investment for several million dollars went through in no small part because MassVentures had essentially confirmed the due diligence for this investor.”

Stage I – SimulConsult, Inc. – Chestnut Hill

SimulConsult, Inc. of Chestnut Hill, MA has been awarded START Stage I funding for their work on the SimulConsult® Diagnose program. Lynn Feldman, CEO of SimulConsult, Inc. said “the START program fills a critical gap between the SBIR research program and achieving a revenue-producing product – investment in commercialization activities.  The START program will allow us to rework some of our programs which means we can price our product more competitively, improving our financial prospects and rate of growth.”


Stage I – NewGrid, Inc. – Somerville

NewGrid, Inc. of Somerville, MA is winner of START Stage I funding for their transmission optimization tool for regional electric grids. “NewGrid develops decision support software for electric power transmission system operators to minimize congestion, resulting in reductions in the cost of electricity to consumers, improved reliability, and greater renewables integration,” said Pablo A. Ruiz, CEO & CTO. “The support of the MassVentures START program is critical to ensure that our technology, developed with federal and state support, transforms from a research project to a practical tool.”


Stage III-Persimmon Technologies Corp. – Wakefield

Persimmon Technologies Corp. of Wakefield, MA has been named one of only two Massachusetts companies to receive the highly competitive START Stage III award.

“START funding enabled Persimmon on take the development of our Hybrid-Field Electric Motor technology form the proof of concept phase, which was funded by the National Science Foundation, to the working product phase. Our Hybrid-Field motors represent a significant breakthrough in electric motor technology. Persimmon’s progress with this technology would not have been possible without START Stage I, II, and III funding,” said Michael Pippins, President & CEO.


Stage II – Coventry Associates, LLC – West Boylston

Coventry Associates of West Boylston, MA has been awarded a Stage II START grant for their highly specialized robotics work. Their President Craig Gardner said, “SBIR funding allowed us to design, build and test our patented industrial robot. However, this funding does not support commercialization. START Stage II funding will enable us to meet the terms of our supply agreement with a Fortune 1000 manufacturer and close orders totaling $6.5 million.”


Stage I – Modular Genetics, Inc. – Woburn, MA

Woburn based Modular Genetics has been awarded funding through the START Stage I program. Modular uses its proprietary automated gene engineering system to create new products. According to CEO Kevin Jarrell, “START funding will enable Modular to scale up our work on using synthetic biology to create surfactants for cleaning products without using oil as a raw material and without creating toxic by-products. After searching extensively for support for this critical phase of the project, Modular was thrilled to learn that the START program will provide the funding needed to launch the scale-up effort, which is the next step on the path to commercialization of these renewable chemicals.”

Stage II – Primaira, LLC – Woburn

Primaira, LLC of Woburn, MA has been awarded START Stage II funding for their Bluezone® Air Cleaning Technology. “The Mass Ventures START program has enabled us to launch our Bluezone(R) residential air cleaning business, by funding the transition of the technology we developed for the US military into a best-in-class consumer product. The START program has allowed us to turn a well-established business model on its head: we will manufacture a world class product in Massachusetts and sell it to Chinese consumers who need better technology and a trustworthy brand to protect their health from their infamous air pollution,” said Managing Partner Karen Benedek. “Not only has the START program provided us funding, it has given us access to a community of businesses in Massachusetts that supports and inspires innovation. This critical program has provided us the funding and credibility we need to attract the further investment and financing to create a robust manufacturing business in Massachusetts.”

Stage I -Levant Power Corp. – Woburn

Levant Power Corp. of Woburn, MA awarded START Stage I funding for their work in expanding their unique automotive suspension systems sensors. “The START program grant is allowing Levant Power to make investments in building a pilot production line in Boston to produce our advanced automotive technology products for global customers. We are already aggressively hiring to staff the effort,” said Zackary Anderson, Chief Commercial Officer.

MassVentures is 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. The MassVentures’ START program received the prestigious 2015 Tibbetts Award from the U.S. Small Business Administration. The Tibbetts Award recognized MassVenture’s critical role in research and development and for successfully driving innovation and creating new jobs through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs.

The START program is a three year process designed to provide increasing financial rewards to SBIR Phase II companies that demonstrate progress on the path toward commercialization. At the outset of Stage 1, ten companies are selected to 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, five of the original ten 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.


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