2017 START Winners – MassVentures announces $3.4 million for 20 companies

by Kate Anderson

MassVentures Announces $3.4 million in 2017 START Program Funding

Partnership with the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center expands awards to additional cutting-edge Massachusetts companies

Boston – MassVentures today announced the 2017 START (SBIR Targeted Technologies) program winners. Each START winner will receive a grant to help grow employment opportunities, promote manufacturing and commercialization, and stimulate innovation across the Commonwealth.  The winning companies span the state and the technology sector, from robotics to clean energy to defense. Full list, including locations and descriptions of the winning companies, is below.

For 2017, MassVentures and the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) have partnered to increase the scope and capacity of the MassVentures START Program. MassCEC has committed up to $400,000 to START in 2017. The new MassVentures and MassCEC cooperative endeavor is the result of the success of the 2016 pilot program to expand START eligibility to recipients of US Department of Energy SBIR grants.

Now in its sixth year, the START program has awarded over $15 million to 70 Massachusetts SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) Phase II projects and helped winning companies raise additional capital of $278 million.

“The START Program is one of the many reasons Massachusetts is the nation’s leader in innovation,” said Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Jay Ash. “These investments leverage federal dollars to support cutting-edge companies grow from the earliest stages of research and development through to commercialization which leads to job creation and economic development opportunities for the state.”

“The START program is a rich feeder source to the venture community that fosters growth of companies and readies them for venture funding,” said Jerry Bird, President, MassVentures. “MassVentures START program helps companies like Clear Motion and Gingko Bioworks capitalize on their SBIR funds and arms them with the capital, experience, mentoring and network they need to transition to high-growth companies.”

“In partnering with MassVentures, we’re opening the START program to clean energy companies and leveraging the strength of Massachusetts’ diverse innovation economy,” said MassCEC CEO Stephen Pike“With access to these funds, companies can draw additional private investment and drive toward commercialization while fueling job creation across the state.”

The MassVentures START program ensures growing Massachusetts-based companies are able to commercialize technologies developed under SBIR and STTR contracts. The program is a three-year process designed to provide increasing financial rewards to the companies that demonstrate progress on the path toward commercialization. At the outset of Stage 1, twelve 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, 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.

2017 START Program Stage I Winners

2017 START Program Stage II Winners

2017 START Program Stage III Winners

2017 START Winners/Company Description by Location


Spero Devices, Inc. – Stage 

Spero Devices is developing an innovative accelerator card for computationally intensive applications in products that are constrained by size, weight and power. The applications are in machine learning, visual computation, and scientific simulation. The computational efficiency of the accelerator is greater than a factor of ten when compared to competitive co-processor devices fabricated in 2022. “The MassVentures START grant will help build the value of the company by enabling us to build a patent portfolio, travel for business development, and develop customer-driven applications in machine intelligence.”


Physical Sciences Inc. – Stage II

For over 40 years, PSI has provided technology solutions and innovative products to government and commercial customers. PSI’s employee-owners continue to grow the company across a range of markets applying emerging science to important problems and play an important role in the development and transition of advanced technology from the laboratory to commercial and government use. “Stage I funding provided PSI with the ability to form strategic alliances that enabled our PERM detection technology to compete in the Radiation Portal Monitor market and establish initial production capability.  Stage II funding will enable us to expand our production capability while entering the mobile and military detector markets.”


Remote Sensing Solutions, Inc. – Stage III

Remote Sensing Solutions (RSS) is a fast-growing small business that develops and provides advanced technology and products for radar and sonar applications. Its core product is the ARENA platform that serves as the voice, nervous system and brain – the digital subsystem – of a radar or sonar. Reconfigurable and modular, the RSS ARENA products are enabling a new generation of sensing capability and sensor design.  “The START program provides research and development companies, like ours, with critical funding and advisory resources to transform from a knowledge-based R&D company to a high-growth, product-based company. In our case, with the START funds and guidance, we have transitioned our ARENA technology that was initially developed through our R&D efforts into a game-changing product-line that is solving our customers’ critical sensor needs while enabling significant growth in employment, revenue and corporate value.”  – Dr. James R Carswell, CTO, Remote Sensing Solutions


VocaliD, Inc. – Stage I

VocaliD humanizes the voice inside any device that speaks–redefining how we interact with one another and our intelligent devices. VocaliD creates custom digital voices as unique as fingerprints by leveraging their growing Human Voicebank of 20,000+ speech donors from around the world and proprietary voice blending algorithms. Whether the personalized voices empower millions who use assistive communication devices or connect loved ones through companion robots and smart toys, VocaliD is powering the next generation of social connectivity. “The START grant comes at a pivotal time as we begin to scale up operations and increase brand awareness to accelerate customer acquisition.” -Rupal Patel, Founder & CEO @ VocaliD.


Akita Innovations LLC – Stage I

Akita Innovations LLC uses advanced materials technologies to solve research and product development challenges for commercial and government customers.  Akita’s chemicals, materials, and coatings are applied to protective/barrier fabrics, optical materials, biosensors, energetic materials, and antifog, anticorrosion, and anticontamination coatings.  “The START grant from MassVentures will be used by Akita to perform business development and preparation for commercialization of our antifog and anticontamination coatings. Such work is not funded by SBIR support for our technology, so the START award will allow us to commercialize the technology and grow our business and staff more rapidly.”  – Larry Takiff, President, Akita Innovations LLC


Spectral Sciences – Stage I

Spectral Sciences, Inc. (SSI) is a small, employee-owned business dedicated to innovation and excellence in basic and applied research.  Areas of expertise include remote sensing and signatures analysis, atmospheric and combustion sciences, computational solutions in chemistry, physics and fluid mechanics, and development of instrumentation to support phenomenological studies and new measurement concepts. SSI’s scientists and engineers have built its foundation on extensive US government contract research and development, and are branching into commercial markets across multiple industries from defense companies to established technology organizations and start-ups.   “The START award for our Multifunctional Imager technology will allow us to gain new insight into the machine vision market for industrial automation and robotics and kick-start our entry into that market.” – Robert Sundberg, President, SSI.


Eutropics – Stage II

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.  “The MassVentures START program award will help support ongoing development and provide critical seed funding to raise capital to drive ensuing commercial activities. It cannot be overstated how significant the association with MassVentures START program is for the commercial implementation of an important clinical diagnostic platform. “ – Michael Cardone, CEO, Eutropics

Massachusetts Materials Technologies LLC – Stage I

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. “The START program will have a large impact on our ability to accelerate the commercialization of our technology and commercial sales that are critical to the success of our innovation efforts.” -Simon Bellemare, CEO, Massachusetts Materials Technologies LLC

Radial Analytics, Inc. – Stage II

Radial Analytics is a seed-stage digital health company. Our decision science platform helps drive better patient outcomes and reduce healthcare costs. “The MassVentures START program has been instrumental in accelerating our progress, allowing us to hire key roles here in Massachusetts and accelerating our commercialization efforts” – Dr. Thaddeus Fulford-Jones, CEO, Radial Analytics

Silverside Detectors – Stage I

Silverside Detectors is developing next-generation nuclear radiation detectors that help governments reduce the threat of nuclear terrorism. Silverside’s neutron detector provides state-of-the-art detection efficiency at a fraction of the cost of currently deployed detectors, allowing significant expansion of detection coverage in ports, borders, and in networks around cities. Silverside works directly with federal agencies and local first responders to provide the best science in the most practical, user-oriented solutions. “The START grant is a huge multiplier on the technical investment that the government made through the SBIR award. We’re excited to use the funds to take the core technology to customers and adapt it for real-world application. The START grant represents an opportunity for commercialization that is very hard for a small company to fund on its own.”

Fall River

Xilectric, Inc. – Stage I

Xilectric has developed a new technology that mitigates damage to Li-ion batteries from elevated temperature and high cell potentials.  Their technology helps cell manufacturers provide superior energy storage products with lower cost of total ownership to their customers. ” Xilectric is extremely grateful for the support from the MassVentures START program which will help support customer trials and initial scale-up activities.” – Steve Weiss, Founder & CEO, Xilectric


MTPV Power Corp. – Stage II

MTPV™ creates clean energy solutions, converting heat into electricity using semiconductor chips. Just as solar panels turn sunlight into electricity, MTPV can turn any heat source into clean power.  MTPV’s EBLADE™ Power Platform provides a small footprint, scalable and easy to deploy solution for energy capture and conversion. “MTPV Power Corporation is delighted to be named a MassVentures 2017 START Program Stage II awardee. Stage I START Program funds have helped MTPV to deploy a commercial site pilot, advancing market readiness. The funding and support provided by the START Program is an invaluable resource for high growth companies in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts working to commercialize innovative technologies.” – David Mather, President & CEO, MTPV Power Corp.


Altaeros Energies – Stage I        

Altaeros’ mission is to deliver the next generation of infrastructure to rural and isolated communities. Altaeros combines proven technology with flight control innovations that enable cost effective autonomous deployment of tethered airborne platforms. At heights above 200m a wide range of applications become attractive including power generation, telecommunications, and other infrastructure services. They are currently focusing on providing a cost effective, reliable and environmentally friendly solution for rural connectivity around the world. “The START grant is a great program that will allow us to hire several key team members to help turn the corner from R&D and product development to full commercialization of our breakthrough telecom infrastructure solution.” – Ben Glass, CEO/CTO, Altaeros Energies

Curoverse, Inc. – Stage I

Through the growth of genomic, imaging, sensor, and other data, healthcare is becoming more predictive, personalized, and precise. Curoverse is building an open-source platform that supports real-time queries of globally distributed biomedical data, efficiently runs machine learning algorithms, and is secure, fault-tolerant, scalable, and embraced by the community.  By addressing the unique data and compute infrastructure software challenges in the biomedical field, Curoverse empowers scientists and clinicians to focus on what they do best: making breakthrough discoveries and delivering real-world care. “The START grant will enable Curoverse to bring Arvados to many new commercial opportunities, linking genome data with clinical data, and to create a big data environment that facilitates the development of precision medicine.” — Ward Vandewege, CEO, Curoverse

Dynamo Micropower Corp. – Stage II

Dynamo Micropower provides the oil and gas industry with a game changing power solution called the PowerCore, which is able to burn Any-Gas for fuel to power Any-Load found in the field.  The solution, based on a novel gas turbine, reduces energy costs by up to 80% for customers.  “The START program will give Dynamo a head-start in commercial launch of our product by enabling us to engage in strategic marketing and pre-sales program–getting us well on our way to our ultimate goal: successful commercialization of our game changing technology.” – Jason Ethier, CEO, Dynamo Micropower


Tactai, Inc. – Stage I

Tactai brings the sense of natural touch in the human to machine interaction. With Tactai’s software and wearable technology people for the first time can touch, feel, grasp and interact with virtual objects and virtual applications with life-like realism. The opportunity to add natural touch to our everyday digital interactions across every possible application of Human expression has the potential to substantially enrich and improve social exchanges and online experiences. “Winning the START award helps us to acquire additional resources to reach more customers and to bring our technology to market sooner.” – Steven D Domenikos, Founder & CEO, Tactai Inc.


Cambrian Innovation, Inc. – Stage II

Cambrian Innovation provides distributed wastewater treatment and resource recovery solutions for industrial businesses. Cambrian’s award-winning EcoVolt® product suite offers cost-effective and sustainable options for onsite wastewater treatment, water reuse, and clean energy generation to some of the top names in food and beverage processing, including Lagunitas Brewing Company, Bear Republic Brewing Company, Russian River Brewing Company, and Rombauer Vineyards, among others. “Cambrian Innovation is honored to be named a MassVentures START Program Stage II winner. The START program has been a great resource for our company, and we are excited to continue working with MassVentures as we grow. We have already made great progress on the second generation of our flagship product, the EcoVolt Reactor, thanks to the funding and support from Stage I of the program. We look forward to building upon that progress in Stage II.” – Matthew Silver, Founder & CEO. Cambrian Innovation


Metamagnetics, Inc. – Stage I

Metamagnetics is a leading provider of RF and microwave components to enhance the performance and effectiveness of mission-critical security, surveillance and communication systems. Their agile, customer oriented team offers unparalleled knowledge and expertise in electromagnetism and materials science. With multiple product offerings and a wide range of consulting services, Metamagnetics can help design and deploy innovative solutions for radar, sensing and related systems. “We are delighted to once again partner with MassVentures to accelerate the commercialization of our Autotune Filter technology. We’ve experienced steady commercial revenue growth from our previous MassVentures supported project and are looking forward to further building that momentum with a new Stage 1 start this year.”


Optodot Corporation – Stage I

Optodot Corporation has been awarded START funding for its NPORE ® heat-resistant separator for lithium ion batteries. The NPORE ® separator is a flexible, all-ceramic, nanoporous membrane that improves the safety of lithium ion batteries because it does not shrink or melt until temperatures reach well above 220ºC. Optodot is a product development company that commercializes technologies primarily through licensing and strategic partnerships. “The START program funding will support Optodot’s transition from technology development to customer qualification and sales. We are honored to receive this competitive award which will help propel the next stage of growth for our company.” – Steve Carlson, Founder and CEO, Optodot

Primaira, LLC – Stage III

Founded in 2006, Primaira LLC has established a track-record of innovation in appliance, medical device, and consumer product development. Primaira, LLC is owned and managed by Phil Carbone and Karen Benedek who bring over 50 years of experience providing product development and technical consulting services to corporate and government clients. Primaira, LLC developed the Bluezone® air cleaning technology for the US Army through the SBIR program. Subsequent to SBIR funding, Primaira launched a multi-industry Bluezone business with product sales, technology licensing, and Bluezone technology integration contracts. “The MassVentures START program has enabled us to launch our Bluezone 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. With START Stage III funding, we will implement our product manufacturing plan creating the private and government partnerships to export our product globally. 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.”


CONTACT: Kate Anderson (617) 773-4842, kate@cwconsulting.co


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. The MassVentures’ 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/.

Your cart

We value your privacy

We use cookies to customize your browsing experience, serve personalized ads or content, and analyze traffic to our site.