21,000 US technology startups have received over $36BN in SBIR funding since the inception of the program in 1983, leading to the generation of over 100,000 US patents and attracting venture funding in excess of $50BN. This US innovation engine has funded several household names, including Lasik and Roomba. This month, Lyco Works was invited to speak on cross-industry technology pollination at the Innovation Development Institute’s meeting, and while there was able to see all kinds of new and exciting emerging technologies, including new materials, high-power supercomputing, advanced propulsion, and unique analytical techniques.
Inducing inspiration from across industries is a principle function of Lyco Works. Earlier this month, I felt privileged to be invited to speak on the subject of Cross-Industry Pollination as a spur for Innovation at a unique meeting for a specific group of high technology start-up companies. The conference was attended by approximately 30 technology startups who had made use of SBIR funding, as well as several larger companies looking for technology acquisitions. Lyco Works was on the lookout for broad technology platforms for multiple clients and future clients. Ann Eskesen, Principle of Innovation Development Institute, and part of the team that helped set up the SBIR funding process in the early 1980s, moderated the intense meeting and kept it moving along. The networking was excellent.
Since 1983, Ann and her team have maintained a database of these young companies who received government funding. Innovation Development Institute (IDI) tracks all kinds of data about the companies, including understanding what types of technical problems they have solved or are working on. When a larger firm needs help solving a particular problem, IDI can search their database including ~7,000 active SBIR startups, and ~500,000 scientists to find the few companies most likely to be able to solve a particular problem.
What struck me about the SBIR process was just how much innovation it has fostered over the years. Lasik – the laser correctional eye surgery – was actually developed from anti-missile technology. The heart of the anti-missile technology involves tracking a rapidly moving object; the technology that solved that problem for the military was later applied to keep track of rapid eye movements during surgery. iRobot’s Roomba is another SBIR case study, in that their initial purpose was to build autonomous robots for hostile or dangerous environments. That same technology base is now also used to produce domestic robots that clean.
So, back to the Boston meeting, and as I know my audience likes technology, here’s a smattering of some of the technology areas presented. Please do reach out if you think that you might have a need for one or more of these exciting technologies – Ann and I will be more than happy to make a connection.
High strength optically clear ceramics. (For us Trekkies, think of Scotty’s “Transparent Aluminum”)
Advanced Ceramic materials (eg for Fuel Cells)
Nano particle silver
Highly thermally conductive materials – designed for heat sinks
Use of Physical Phenomena:
Ion and Plasma thruster drives for space craft.
Novel approach to efficient refrigeration using the Bernoulli effect.
Rapid Spectroscopic ID of materials using very short wave microwaves
High Performance Computing (for modeling)
Sensors for gamma and x-rays, as well as magnetism
Sensor single crystal growth technology
Enzymatic Degradation of Biofilms
Metal complex Pharmaceuticals for sustained release
Fungal extracts library with antiviral, antibacterial, anti fungal properties
DNA aptamer synthesis technology – for therapeutics and diagnostics