FRANKFORT, Ky. — Ten high-tech Kentucky companies will receive $2.18 million in state matching funds to promote growth and job creation in high-paying research and technological fields, from disease research to water treatment. The Kentucky grants match in part the recently announced $5.1 million in federal grants the businesses will collectively receive.
“SBIR/STTR funds are a vital component in launching and growing innovative, high-tech companies here in Kentucky,” said Gov. Matt Bevin. “The commonwealth’s matching program is one of the strongest in the nation, enabling us to support early-stage companies with cutting-edge technologies. This year’s recipients are a testament to the outstanding work being done in our state across many disciplines. We look forward to watching them flourish right here in America’s engineering and manufacturing center of excellence.”
The grants are part of the commonwealth’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Matching Funds program. The program, overseen by KY Innovation within the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, matches all or part of federal SBIR/STTR awards received by Kentucky-based companies or companies that commit to relocation in the state.
“The Cabinet for Economic Development recognizes that to grow the overall economy, Kentucky must support high-tech research and startups among entrepreneurs who are already here, while also attracting talent from across America,” said Vivek Sarin, executive officer and co-CEO at the Cabinet. “This program allows us to do that at a high level and help businesses with tremendous potential on their path to successes. They are great examples of the kind of entrepreneurship that will secure Kentucky’s place on the forefront of innovation.”
Cabinet Sec. Terry Gill applaud the awardees.
“We have begun to see how successful high-tech businesses can be in Kentucky, and our SBIR/STTR Matching Funds program serves as a perfect example of our efforts to build upon that success,” Sec. Gill said. “Whether we are working with a homegrown Kentucky company or a high-tech business looking to move into the commonwealth, we want innovative business leaders to know we are willing to work with them to meet their goals. Each of the awardees encapsulate what we are looking for from high-tech Kentucky businesses and we anticipate great things from each of them in the years ahead.”
Kentucky companies awarded matching SBIR/STTR funding are as follows:
Bert Thin Films, LLC (Louisville): Bert Thin Films LLC is producing copper-based pastes for the front metal contacts on silicon solar cells. The company provides manufacturers with a low cost alternative to the silver pastes currently employed.
Lepidext LLC (Lexington): Lepidext focuses exclusively on development of a biological insect control agent. It targets corn earworm and cotton bollworm because of challenges since developing a resistance to both conventional and transgenic toxins. The product improves the way lepidopteran pests are controlled and reduces to eliminate the dependency for genetically modified plants and chemical sprays.
Endoscopy Assist Devices, LLC (Louisville): Endoscopy Assist Devices is creating a biopsy tool that can take infinite samples, eliminating the need to remove the device between samples. This reduces procedure times and the number of biopsies skipped by physicians and increases quality care.
Liberate Medical, LLC (Crestwood): Liberate Medical developed a medical device that applies non-invasive, electrical stimulation to the abdominal wall muscles in synch with the patient’s exhalation. The system works in line with mechanical ventilation devices used on patients to drastically reduce the number of days patients need ventilation support and reduce secondary complications from prolonged ventilation support.
Gismo Therapeutics, Inc. (Lexington): Gismo created molecules that inhibit the binding and buildup of Alzheimer’s causing compounds. It is a novel therapeutic approach to treating Alzheimer’s Disease and other Neurodegenerative Diseases.
Bluegrass Advanced Materials LLC (Lexington): Bluegrass Advanced Materials is developing an oral rinse compound with both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties to delay or reduce the severity of Oral Mucositis ulcers after anti-cancer chemo and radiation therapies. The compound provides prolonged coverage to the treated area, reducing the need to reapply and resulting in patient relief.
Active Therapy Systems, LLC (Stamping Ground): Active Therapy Systems is an automated physical therapy treatment system, acting as a virtual coach, for patients suffering from Parkinson’s Disease. The automated technology will provide real-time feedback for improved physical therapy treatment, and provide physicians with patient data from each session.
Enepret Incorporated (Lexington): Enepret extracts a yeast-derived hydrocarbon oil that stimulates the immune system, increasing the effectiveness of vaccines. Work is targeted to flu vaccine efficacy.
Power Tech Water (Lexington): Power Tech Water developed a salt-free water filtration system that can isolate one, or target many contaminates at once. With no consumables and a system not inhibited by other constituents in the water, the technology has applications in both industrial and residential settings.
Signal Solutions, LLC (Lexington): Signal Solutions is simplifying and streamlining animal research using noninvasive sensors to monitor physiological outputs. The company develops sensor technology to monitor respiratory parameter in research animals, for studies where respiratory deficiency is a primary or secondary characteristic of disease.
“This is an important year for the SBIR/STTR matching initiative, as we are re-establishing a program that is second to none in the United States,” said Brian Mefford, executive director of KY Innovation. “It is fitting that the awardees during this round represent such a rich cross section of science and technology startups – and we believe even bigger things are yet to come for them. Some of our greatest success stories have and will continue to benefit from this program. From companies with innovative solutions to public safety issues to others actually making progress toward a cure for cancer, SBIR/STTR match makes a real and lasting impact on Kentucky’s economy and the lives of all Americans.”
Since inception in 2006, Kentucky’s SBIR/STTR program has awarded more than $59 million to support 124 companies that leveraged more than $105 million in federal SBIR/STTR grants. Those recipient companies have created more than 500 high-salary jobs in Kentucky. A total of 41 companies have located, or are planning to relocate, their businesses to Kentucky to take advantage of the program.
Eligible high-tech companies can apply for federal grants in two phases. Businesses in the concept or feasibility stage can apply for Phase I funding while companies in full-scale research and development can request Phase II assistance. Kentucky’s program matches federal Phase I grants up to $150,000 and match Phase II funding up to $500,000 per year for two years.
In addition to the match funding, the Cabinet will provide additional and ongoing help for tech businesses. This past September, the Cabinet received approval for a $125,000 grant through the US Small Business Administration’s Federal and State Technology (FAST) program. With those funds, the Cabinet is establishing the Kentucky Innovation Investment Program (KIIP), a hub for attracting, assisting and maximizing assets of top SBIR/STTR candidates.
More information on Kentucky’s SBIR/STTR Matching Funds Program is available at www.thinkkentucky.com/Entrepreneurship/SBIR-STTR.aspx.