Innovative small businesses selected for HSC Next SBIR Phase 0 Program

Factory: Female Industrial Engineer Wearing Virtual Reality HeadLeaders from The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth selected nine business owners this month to receive funding from a program designed to spur local innovation.

Articulate Labs, Entvantage Dx, Memsel, Neuro Rehab, PaRxVision, SecureFoundry, Sinclair Digital Services, TerraStor and VaxDome comprise the inaugural cohort of the HSC Next SBIR Phase 0 Program.

This program was created to help the owners of local forward-thinking small businesses apply for federal funds through mechanisms known as the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs, collectively known as America’s Seed Fund. In December, HSC received a $2 million grant from Tarrant County to fund the program.

“Tarrant County’s decision to fund an SBIR Phase 0 program is unprecedented,” said Dr. Adrian Denvir, the university’s director of SBIR Phase 0 programming. “The Tarrant County grant enables our team to engage in community outreach to increase awareness of SBIR funding opportunities. The grant also allowed us to create a program that increases the likelihood of small businesses successfully submitting an SBIR/STTR proposal.”

To qualify for the HSC’s funds, companies have to be in Tarrant County, employ fewer than 500 employees, be U.S. owned and operated, work within U.S. borders, feature new or novel innovations and focus on research and development with a plan to commercialize.

The program is managed by HSC Next, the innovation branch of the university. The Next team is responsible for raising awareness of the SBIR/STTR programs in Tarrant County, recruiting business owners to apply and guiding qualified applicants through the complex SBIR/STTR application process. The program will select a new cohort each month through November 2024. HSC is accepting applications through Feb. 21 for the next cohort.

The SBIR/STTR programs are two federal initiatives aimed at providing funding to owners of small businesses to conduct research and development projects that have the potential to commercialize. The SBIR program provides approximately $3.7 billion a year to small businesses, making it the country’s largest single source of nondilutive, early-stage funding.

Staff in the HSC Next program guide the owners of qualified companies through the complex process of applying for SBIR/STTR awards by providing technology assessments, mentoring, grant-writing assistance, market research and more.

Those admitted to a cohort meet weekly for a month. Once a business owner has successfully submitted an SBIR/STTR proposal, HSC Next staff members offer follow-up services that explore reviewer feedback, notification of award and opportunity for guidance in seeking SBIR/STTR Phase II funding. Access to services like these typically cost owners of small businesses thousands of dollars, but thanks to the Tarrant County grant, the associated costs of the program are available to participants at no charge.

“SecureFoundry is excited to be part of HSC’s SBIR program,” said Lex Keen, the company’s CEO. “We believe the services will help demystify the grant-writing process and open up avenues to nondilutive government funding.”

More about the inaugural cohort:

Articulate LabsArticulate Labs develops wearable medical devices that amplify muscle growth throughout everyday activity to conquer functional limitations and to restore physical capability.

Entvantage DxEntvantage Dx is an in-vitro diagnostics company that provides Primary Care Physicians and Otolaryngologists with rapid, in-office diagnostic tests to determine the cause of ear, nose and throat illnesses.

Memsel Inc. Memsel is developing pioneering point-of-need advanced healing solutions and leading-edge point-of-care detection capabilities through bold and transformative science, driving innovation to create breakthrough treatment solutions and rapid diagnostic testing capabilities, enhancing global health care responses and outcomes.

Neuro Rehab VR Neuro Rehab VR was founded in 2017 to provide hope for those plagued by neurological conditions. The company is partnered with one of the biggest and most innovative neurological recovery facilities in the world, Neurokinetix, LLC. This clinic is where Neuro Rehab VR was founded with the goal of creating virtual reality rehabilitation for Neuro, Orthopedic, Pediatric, Geriatric, Wellness, and more.

PaRxVision − PaRxVision is a biotech company that uses a new platform to treat eye disease. The platform is based on developmental biology based on the discovery of a novel property of transcription regulators. PaRxVision believes the process to set up normal physiology of the eye during development can serve to reset a patient’s physiology disrupted by disease and aging.

SecureFoundrySecureFoundry is a fast-moving and aggressive technology company focused on bringing to market low-volume semiconductor manufacturing capabilities. The company’s founder believes its capability will spark an era of commercialization and usher in an exciting new wave of technologies. SecureFoundry envisions being the enabling technology for all future microelectronic innovations.

Sinclair Digital ServicesSinclair Digital Services offers traditional and advanced low-voltage design that pushes the boundaries of what is possible both today and tomorrow. The company focuses on a Class 2 DC power network in buildings powered by Digital Electricity and PoE power. The focus of Sinclair Digital Services is reducing high-voltage AC power in buildings and replacing it with a more sustainable, safer power that enables efficiency and increases the experience of the occupant.

TerraStorTerraStor enables electrical grids to achieve 100% renewable penetration by developing grid-scale, long-duration energy storage systems. The company deploys advanced compressed air energy storage technology to create giant mechanical batteries, using free and abundant air and natural geology for a clean, simple and economic storage solution.

VaxDome Inc. − Vaxdome has developed a new and innovative approach to vaccine development. The advantage of this novel approach is that it acts as an infection-dependent vaccine potentiator and a pathogen-agnostic antiviral in one easy-to-administer package.

The next cohort will begin March 1. To learn more or apply to be part of a cohort, visit SBIRphase0.com or email adrian.denvir@unthsc.edu or nicole.reilley@unthsc.edu.

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