Each year, the National Science Foundation hosts their SBIR/STTR Phase II Grantee Conference, which brings together over 200 grantees, industry reps, and investors. The event provides Larta with the unique opportunity to catch up with many of our NSF Commercialization Assistance Program (NSF-CAP1) alumni in person. We were thrilled to hear of their recent successes, some of which are highlighted below:
- 3DEO: Continuing to receive large orders for their 3D printed high quality metal components
- JKM Technologies: Oesh Shoes, a 3D printed sandal, were a huge hit at the conference. Founder D. Casey Kerrigan walked away with orders and many new fans!
- Living Ink Technologies: Invited to join Plug and Play
- CueThink: Will soon be launching their product in yet another major school district – be on the lookout for their announcement.
- Grow Plastics: Partnering with major fast food chain
Networking between the grantees and potential investors or strategic partners is a major element of the conference, with many representatives from the venture arms of large corporations present. Co-located for the first time with the annual IRI (Innovation Research Interchange) Conference, the number of attendees from large private-sector companies (such as Goodyear, Sabic and Xerox) was significantly higher than in years past. We hope the conference will continue to be co-located with IRI, as the arrangement allowed the grantees to showcase and discuss their technologies with a wider pool of innovation leaders, and gave those in the industry a window into cutting-edge, science-based technologies.
Larta also had the pleasure of hosting a small dinner for a few of our CAP alumni and industry partners, during which we discussed current tech trends, the ‘Larta Way’ of approaching Commercialization Assistance, and how we bridge the gap between early-stage entrepreneurs and industry. We thoroughly enjoyed the conversation and appreciated the insights added by all.
One last highlight was the presentation given by Dawn Tilbury, NSF’s Assistant Director for the Directorate for Engineering. Her presentation highlighted NSF’s Strategic Plan for 2018-2020 (which you can read here) and announced their plans to launch a Convergence Accelerator in FY 2019. The accelerator will feature cohorts and seed investment, and a pitch competition for monetary prizes. This is an exciting new approach from a government agency, and certainly speaks to NSF’s reputation as a leader in commercializing SBIR/STTR innovations.
Be on the lookout for Larta’s upcoming Convergence podcast, which will showcase a few of our portfolio companies whose interdisciplinary work stands to make a monumental impact on society.