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Multi-Agency SBIR Client: Electro-Mechanical Associates

Electro-Mechanical Associates (EMA) provides innovative, early-concept stage solutions for customers with challenging mechanical, electrical and computer design, testing and equipment needs. Specializing in spark-ignition and Diesel engine, and related programs EMA services include design, build-up, prototyping, instrumentation and measurement, in-house testing, software service and training programs. The company has in-house machining and measurement capability that can quickly translate concepts into functioning prototypes. In recent years EMA has developed some proprietary concepts and called upon BBC to help secure.

BBC Role:  BBC training highlighted appropriate programs for EMA, how to develop and target a proposal, and how to select appropriate language to gain reviewers interest. EMA assigned a senior engineer to attend BBC training programs, and then to prepare proposals to funding agencies. BBC personnel reviewed the draft proposals and made suggestions and recommendations. The BBC team posed critical questions that resulted in a more comprehensive proposal.

Outcome: EMA’s first proposal was to the U.S. Navy for improving Diesel engine fuel economy in existing engines through retrofitting of an innovative valve lifting device. A Phase I grant was obtained, and this enabled EMA to build and demonstrate the prototype device. Subsequently, an additional grant was obtained from DOE to further evaluate an expanded concept. A further grant has been obtained from EPA to pursue yet another means to improve Diesel engine efficiency.

What they said: “We believe that insights gained from our relationship with BBC were crucial in obtaining funding for these programs and increasing our proposal success rate.” - George Schwartz, Owner, Electro-Mechanical Associates

NIH Phase II SBIR Client: Backyard Brains

As grad students at the University of Michigan, co-founders Tim Marzullo and Greg Gage regularly interacted with schoolchildren during neuroscience outreach events. They often wanted to show real “spiking” activity to students, but this was impossible due to the high cost of equipment. By using off-the-shelf electronics, they designed kits that could provide insight into the inner workings of the nervous system. They started a small company in Ann Arbor, MI, and now provide low-cost neuroscience kits and education materials to teachers and the public, in over 44 countries on all seven continents.

BBC Role:  Backyard Brains needed help writing the Commercialization Plan for a Phase II SBIR. Although good engineers and scientists, they needed help in crafting a compelling plan for the company’s financial future. BBC suggested changes to large portions of the plan, including “Growing/Maintaining a Successful Company”, “Meeting Critical Management Functions”, and most importantly, the “Finance Plan”.

Outcome:  Backyard Brains was awarded Phase II funding, which will allow it to continue growing over the next three years.

What they said: “BBC knows what a stressful time grant deadlines can be, and they were very responsive when working with us. They reviewed our grant multiple times, and provided fast turnaround with their feedback. The feedback provided excellent, understandable and actionable criticisms. I would highly recommend this service to anyone looking to improve the quality (and hence the competitiveness) of their SBIR.” – Greg Gage, PhD, Co-Founder and Engineer

NIH Phase II Contract Client: Innovative BioTherapies

Innovative BioTherapies (IBT), is a start-up biotechnology company (founded 2003) organized with the goal of developing bio-implantable/extracorporeal devices in the emerging field of regenerative medicine. IBT has two main platform technologies: 1) a cell based bioartificial renal epithelial cell system (BRECS), and 2) a biomimetic membrane cell processing based selective cytopheretic device (SCD). Both the BRECS and SCD are targeted for treatment indications involving acute kidney injury and/or sepsis associated with multi-organ dysfunction. In the current  “investor environment” for the riskier bio-engineered medical devices it is difficult to secure investor capital while in the R&D stage. Therefore IBT has selected to move these technologies forward through the SBIR programs.

BBC’s Role:  BBC wrote the commercialization plan for all three of IBT’s SBIR Phase II grant submissions and provided templates for all of the SBIR sections required as part of the submission process. Additionally, BBC was instrumental in the initial education of IBT’s lead PI regarding the NIH/SBIR process.

Outcome:  IBT has been funded for all three of its Phase II submissions. IBT has also been funded for five SBIR Phase I grants.

What They Said: BBC staff are very well informed on the SBIR process and the politics involved in any changes with the SBIR system. The various training programs are very informative and increase likelihood of funding through this very competitive process.” – Deborah Buffington, Chief Operating Officer

NIH SBIR Client: NanoVir

NanoVir is a drug research company committed to the discovery of treatments for human papillomavirus (HPV) using novel chemical and biological approaches to develop DNA-targeted therapies. By targeting HPV DNA, rather than more traditional antiviral targets, the company has identified a series of compounds that dramatically reduce the viral DNA load of cells harboring the virus. The company’s focus on R&D made it an ideal candidate for SBIR and STTR funding.

BBC’s Role: Nanovir’s management team attended BBC’s grant-writing seminar and followed up by seeking advice on preparing their first Phase 1 proposal. As NanoVir’s business accelerated, so did the company’s need for more sophisticated funding. In putting together its Phase II funding proposal, it needed to develop a commercialization plan that detailed the company’s growth plans for the coming years. BBC researched and wrote the commercialization plan in collaboration with the NanoVir team.

Outcome: NanoVir’s Phase I STTR award of $600,000 was almost six times larger than the typical Phase I award. Their Phase II STTR award totaled approximately $3 million.

What They Said: “We didn’t realize how much we needed the expert assistance with our NIH proposal until after we had started working with BBC…If we had gone it alone to save money, I’m sure our NIH funding would have been delayed.” – Chris Fisher, Ph.D., NanoVir co-founder

“Although we’d had experience with grant proposals, the requirements for NIH grants offered under SBIR and STTR programs are detailed and difficult to assimilate at first…We were able to eliminate procedural errors in our first SBIR application with the help of BBC; these errors might seem minor to the casual reader, but they are major issues with NIH and could have disqualified us from funding for that first attempt.” – Jim Bashkin, D.Phil., NanoVir co-founder

NSF SBIR Client: CohortFS LLC

CohortFS is a distributed, replicated, parallel storage platform for cloud computing. It enables organizations to manage applications and data more effectively across multiple data centers (local data centers, private and public clouds). The company sought NSF Phase I and Phase II SBIR funding to enable it to develop novel replication, data placement and data security technologies that strongly advanced the company’s R&D portfolio.

BBC’s Role: BBC training explained the programs CohortFS was applying for and how to develop their proposal, being mindful of employing language that was credible and most likely to gain the reviewers interest. The BBC team posed critical questions that resulted in a more comprehensive proposal within limited space constraints.

Outcome: CohortFS was awarded NSF SBIR Phase I and Phase II grants.

What They Said: “It was and remains a pleasure to work with the entire team at BBC. They made an effort to understand our objective and tease out the innovation that we proposed, and they helped us focus on its commercial viability. Once we had been awarded the grants, the team has also been very helpful and responsive in terms of training and answering questions regarding the compliance & reporting requirements.” - Elizabeth Ziph, CEO and Co-founder, CohortFS

DoD SBIR Client: Airflow Sciences Corporation

Airflow Sciences Corporation (ASC) provides computer simulation and testing services to improve industrial processes that involve air/gas/liquid flow, heat/mass transfer, etc. In cases where existing simulation techniques are not capable of addressing a particular problem, ASC develops new simulation methods. One particularly challenging problem is the quenching of hot metal parts during heat treating operations. While the ability to accurately simulate these processes would have broad application, there is no single industry stakeholder willing to fund that development. In order to clear that hurdle, ASC sought SBIR funding to support those efforts. Completion of the Phase II scope of work is expected to result in a commercial product with sufficient revenue to finance continued development.

BBC’s Role: ASC worked with BBC in the preparation of its Phase I and Phase II proposals, providing a framework for the proposals and key feedback on drafts.

Outcome: The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) awarded ASC two contracts for the Phase I and Phase II development of “CFD Tools for the Management of Bulk Residual Stress.”

What they said: “For an established company accustomed to commercial contracts, the SBIR landscape can be can be very foreign territory. Having an experienced guide lead us through, point out the pitfalls, and head us in the right direction was extremely helpful…the existence of the BBC “lifeline” was greatly appreciated.” – Andrew Banka, Airflow Sciences Corporation

NIH SBIR Client: The P.L.A.Y. Project

The Play and Language for Autistic Youngsters (P.L.A.Y.) Project trains parents to play with their autistic sons and daughters in a way that treats the core deficits of autism. The P.L.A.Y. Project sought SBIR funding to support a two-year clinical study to validate their research and methodology to help families better communicate with autistic children, helping them become more engaged with the world around them.

BBC’s Role: BBC worked with The P.L.A.Y. Project on both its Phase I and Phase II proposals by reviewing the grant application, effectively addressing reviewers’ comments, and assisting with the business and finance plans.

Outcome: $1.85 million SBIR grant from the National Institutes of Health

Economic Development Client: BioEnterprise

A Cleveland-based economic development organization, BioEnterprise is tasked with helping companies bridge the gap between R&D and commercialization.

BBC’s Role: BBC provided training and follow-on assistance to start-ups throughout the northeast Ohio region to help them secure critical SBIR grant funding.

What They Said: “Technologists that start these companies don’t always have the commercialization perspective that BBC offers. This business background is critical to securing funding with NIH and other agencies that focus heavily on commercialization potential when considering grant applications.” – Bob Baxter, VP, BioEnterprise

“Contributors, research plans, budget and marketing all need to interlace and flow together in a grant proposal. BBC kept our team focused on how the NIH views a grant application.” - Michael Kaufman, President, Buckeye Pharmaceuticals, an Ohio company assisted by BBC through the BioEnterprise program.

NSF SBIR Client: Advanced Cooling Therapy

Advanced Cooling Therapy, LLC, (ACT) is developing a novel approach to patient temperature management that reduces risk, increases efficiency, and lowers costs while dramatically improving patient outcomes. This innovative technology controls patient temperature to more effectively implement mild therapeutic hypothermia, maintain operative normothermia, and treat fever.

BBC’s Role: ACT came to BBC after receiving an award through the Illinois Innovation Challenge Grant Program by the iBIO Entrepreneurship Center and PROPEL for further grants development. BBC provided assistance in developing proposal strategy and review as well as budget development.

Outcome: The company was awarded an NSF Phase I grant of $150, 000, and is in the process of pursuing preclinical design protyping, testing and early development on the device.

What they said: “We had been relying on friends and family for our funding, so this grant was essential, but we had no experience in writing SBIR grants or commercialization plans. BBC helped us to leverage our own knowledge and expertise, deal with reviewers, and end up with a successful grant.” - Erik Kulstad, M.D., M.S., President & CEO, Advanced Cooling Therapy

DoE SBIR Client: Vinazene, Inc.

Vinazene, Inc. is a startup company with intellectual property in the area of new active materials for energy storage. The Vinazene team is particularly interested in using these materials in Redox Flow Batteries (RFB), which store energy when it is available and releases energy when it is not.

BBC’s Role: Vinazene came to BBC at the suggestion of Ann Arbor SPARK, a regional economic development organization, for help in preparing and submitting a Phase I proposal to the Dept. of Energy for support of its research and commercialization efforts.

Outcome: Vinazene was awarded a DoE Phase I grant in 2012. BBC continues to work with the company on project accounting and compliance with the many aspects of government contracts.

What They Said: “BBC has a mission to help start-up companies and fledgling entrepreneurs, and they understand that service to their customers is paramount. Their assistance was outstanding, their experience in how to frame this type of proposal was invaluable.” - Paul Rasmussen, President, Vinazene, Inc.

NIH SBIR Client: Compendia Bioscience

Compendia Bioscience is dedicated to gathering the world’s genomic data and making it interpretable and applicable to drug development and clinical research with the goal of ultimately curing cancer. Compendia’s flagship product, Oncomine™, helps researchers discover and prioritize potential cancer targets and biomarkers, improving efficiency, strengthening product pipelines and increasing the likelihood of success.

BBC’s Role: BBC helped Compendia with grant proposal intricacies, keeping the Compendia team focused on the scientific and business elements of the proposal. BBC’s assistance included structuring the application and budget, and crafting a technically sound proposal that met all of the federal program guidelines. BBC also assisted Compendia with management of the grant award.

Outcome: Compendia won $2.4 million in grant funding, one of the largest SBIR awards provided to a company.

What They Said: “BBC’s depth of experience is very comforting. You don’t want a rookie helping you through this process; if you don’t get funding the first time, you have to wait three months before re-submitting a proposal. For start-ups, three months is a lifetime.” – John Freshley, Chief Business Officer, Compendia Bioscience

State Biotechnology Industry Organization Client: iBIO Institute

The iBIO Institute, an affiliate of the Illinois Biotechnology Industry Organization (iBIO), orchestrates business leadership in delivery of world-class educational programs and job-creating new technology ventures within the life sciences.

BBC’s Role: iBIO Institute’s PROPEL Center is a group of programs aimed at increasing the number and success rates of life sciences start-ups in Illinois. Realizing that access to funding is a key driver of business acceleration, PROPEL offers SBIR and STTR grant funding workshops led by BBC.

What They Said: “The SBIR and STTR grant funding process is vague and confusing,” Reed explained. “BBC offers tactical advice on how to manage all of the details that are required for grant funding including budgets, business plans, and commercialization plans.” – Ann Reed, Vice President, Operations, iBIO Institute

“I can’t imagine a company trying to navigate the grant process solo. BBC’s training program was a critical element in our ability to prepare a high-quality application and we will definitely work with them on future applications.” - Dr. Michael Artinger, President and CEO, Nanodisc (University of Illinois spin out)

NIH SBIR Client: Actuated Medical, Inc.

Actuated Medical, Inc. (AMI) is a medical device development and manufacturer, founded in 2006, specializing in the integration of innovative, controlled motion technologies into medical devices. From its inception, the company had identified a clinical need and commercialization market toward which it was focusing technical development efforts. They had begun pursuing grants, primarily in DOD and NASA focused efforts, in 2007, but needed help in refining grant applications for an NIH reviewer audience.

BBC Role: BBC helped focus AMI’s NIH grant writing, particularly in the Experimental Plan section with the goal of producing a plan that NIH review panels would react favorably and ultimately score our grants in the ‘payline’ range.

Outcome: The outcome was winning eight Phase I grants and three Phase II grants (from NIH and NSF). Follow-on funding from interested DOD parties has led to over $8 million in federally supported R&D efforts at AMI. As a result, AMI shipped its first product – manufactured in Bellefonte, PA – to Europe in June 2012.

What they said: “The BBC team provides blunt, honest, but always constructive feedback on your grant process. If you listen, they assist you to move your grant into shape to where the NIH review panels take you seriously, and you start getting favorable scores.” - Roger Bagwell, Ph.D., Director, Research and Development, Actuated Medical, Inc.

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