4 NW Arkansas Companies Get $125K NASA Grants

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The Startup Junkie Foundation announced Monday that NASA has awarded $125,000 grants to four northwest Arkansas companies, through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs.

A total of 312 U.S. small businesses received more than $50 million in funding from NASA based on proposals exhibiting innovative technologies that have aeronautical and earth applications. 

The Arkansas recipients were Nanomatronix, Ozark Integrated Circuits and WattGlass, all headquartered in Fayetteville, and Catalyze H2O, which is based in Elkins (Washington County).

This is Phase I funding, so recipients have six months to use it and submit a Phase II proposal for additional funding. 

Catalyze H2O, one of the 85 women- or minority-owned businesses that received NASA awards, will use the funding to improve spacecraft cabins and technology that will detect and monitor microbial growth for the agricultural, water, health care and oil and gas industries.

“Without the new funding from the NASA SBIR, the commercialization of our sensor technology would be at a standstill,” CEO Shelby Foster said in a news release. “We do not have an internal funding method to advance independent research and development, so we rely on SBIR funding to get a new product idea off the ground.”

Corey Thompson, CEO of WattGlass, said “This award is the first NASA award that we’ve received, and Matt Francis from OzarkIC was a huge resource for us as we went through the application process. On a day-to-day basis, we bounce ideas off of other founders and are constantly impressed with how willing people are to help other companies grow.”

Matt Leftwich, CEO and engineering director at Nanomatronix, said, “Through the involvement with multiple startups, I’ve been utilizing SBIR/STTR funds the entire time. Four of the five startup companies I have or have had ownership utilized federal SBIR funds. Their utilization is inherent in our business development and finance models.”

Ian Getreu, director of business development and partnerships for Ozark IC, said, “The Phase I award from NASA lets us extend the range of our ultra high-temperature (500 series) technologies into analog sensing, further helping us fill our product line. In addition to future Venus surface exploration, these products are critical to next-generation turbine engines, energy exploration and hypersonic systems that need electronics for sensing and actuation.”