For at least three days this month, Philadelphia will be the Silicon Valley of biotech.
Nearly 40 startups and small businesses funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) with innovative biomedical technologies based on fundamental research will be in Philadelphia June 15-18 at the 2015 BIO International Convention, the world's largest gathering of the biotechnology industry.
The companies will be part of the Innovation Zone, a 5,000-square-foot exhibit space dedicated to businesses with cutting-edge biomedical technologies supported by NSF's Directorate for Engineering.
Most of the exhibitors are companies supported through the NSF Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) program, a $160-million activity that catalyzes the commercialization of high-risk technological innovations via research and development grants to small businesses and startups.
"Biomedical innovations born out of the ingenuity of inventors, scientists and engineers have the potential to benefit human health and boost the economy--if they make it to the marketplace," said Pramod Khargonekar, assistant director for engineering. "NSF seed funding provides the critical first step, while the Innovation Zone gathers potential investors, partners and mentors all under one roof, at one time, to make connections for commercialization. There is no substitute for this kind of in-person opportunity."
The zone will also include companies supported by the National Institutes of Health SBIR/STTR program, meaning more than 75 companies in all will showcase emerging biotech at the convention.
"BIO is thrilled to partner once again with the National Science Foundation to bring the Innovation Zone to Philadelphia this year, and we are excited to announce that we are doubling its size for the 2015 Convention," said Scott Whitaker, president of the BIO International Convention. "The Innovation Zone will serve as an exhibition of inspiration, highlighting an array of different technologies with powerful promise to make a difference in the lives of patients."
New university presence
The Innovation Zone was first launched at the 2014 BIO Convention.
This year, it will also feature six universities funded under the NSF Partnerships for Innovation: Accelerating Innovation Research program (PFI:AIR). This group will demonstrate advanced biomedical prototypes that are close to commercialization stage.
"It is exciting to see the PFI:AIR program represented in the Innovation Zone this year," said Barbara Kenny, NSF PFI:AIR program director. "These grantees have taken their NSF-funded research results and moved them toward societal use and commercial applications to the point where they can be showcased to potential investors."
The biotechnology developed by the PFI:AIR and SBIR/STTR grantees spans the spectrum from diagnostics and monitoring to drug discovery to manufacturing and treatments.
"The significant expansion of the Innovation Zone this year is indicative of the incredible value these disruptive technologies can bring to society, the investor community and the marketplace," said Jesus Soriano, a program director for NSF's SBIR/STTR program. "Biomedical and smart health startup companies funded by NSF leverage taxpayer dollars by raising significant private funds and establishing partnerships with key market players."
Legacy of support
NSF's role in the Innovation Zone is a continuation of a three-decade legacy of support for innovation and the high-tech small business community. In particular, large-scale trade shows provide exhibitors with opportunities to connect with a multitude of likeminded partners and investors.
Like the Eureka Park TechZone at the 2015 International CES® and the NSF pavilion at the upcoming International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE®) conference, special exhibit spaces such as Innovation Zone make these up-and-coming technologies easier to find.
Read NSF company profiles on the BIOtechNow blog.
Download the list of NSF-supported exhibits in the Innovation Zone.
Diagnostics and Monitoring
Applied Biosensors LLC
Elucid Bioimaging Inc.
Georgia State University
Texas Tech University
Carmot Therapeutics Inc.
Longevity Biotech Inc.
Protein Dynamic Solutions LLC
Vaxess Technologies Inc.
Advanced Polymer Monitoring Technologies Inc.
Continuus Pharmaceuticals Inc.
Nano3d Biosciences Inc.
Nanofiber Separations LLC
Terapore Technologies Inc.
Actuated Medical Inc.
Extend Biosciences Inc.
About the National Science Foundation's Small Business Programs
At the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technology Transfer program (SBIR/STTR) is an approximately $177 million program that catalyzes the commercialization of high-risk technological innovations via research and development grants to small businesses and startups. In addition, NSF supports faculty in translational research activities through the PFI:AIR- Technology Translation program. NSF is an independent federal agency with a budget of about $7 billion that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering.