September 9th, 2021:  Straight Talk with SBIR/STTR Grant Winners

  • September 9th, 2021
  • 1:00pm PST

The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs are highly competitive programs that encourage domestic small businesses to engage in Federal Research/Research and Development (R/R&D) with the potential for commercialization. In this conversation, we are talking to three winners from SBIR/STTR and learn how to be successful in competing for these opportunities.


Stuart Berkowitz, Founder & CEO - Stuart is the Founder and CEO of Out of the Fog Research LLC (OFR) based in Mountain View, CA. He has successfully won, managed, and transitioned over $30 million in SBIR projects. For the past 17 years, Stuart has led programs at OFR to develop and transition RF Front-end technology for SIGINT systems.  Stuart has taken technology from TRL 3 to TRL 9 multiple times. For example, he managed the production of over 60 production cryogenic RF distribution units to the Cryptological Carry-On program. For these efforts in the commercialization of SBIR technology, OFR received a 2015 Tibbetts Award from the SBA. He has been the principal investigator on contracts from the Navy, Air Force, DARPA, and NIST. He has transitioned technology through Phase II.5, SAT/CPP, and RIF.  He is the co-author of over 35 technical publications and has been awarded two patents.

For his efforts in commercializing superconductivity, he received the IEEE Council on Superconductivity Rosner Award in 2012.  Being a hands-on Founder, he is intimately familiar with all aspects of government contracting as a small business, including government accounting and how to survive a DCAA audit. Stuart earned his BS degree in Physics from NC State University and his Ph.D. in Physics from Boston University. Stuart also has helped other small businesses from inception through Seed Round investments as an advisor, Angel investor, and Board member. 


Ross Davison, CEO - Ross is a specialist in the capture and analysis of remotely sensed data for conservation. He has led over 100 projects across 26 countries with clients such as the World Bank, the US State Department, Google, UNESCO, and The Nature Conservancy. In 2015, he was recognized as a National Geographic Explorer, in 2018 a Packard Coastal Sustainability Fellow, and in 2020 a Wild Gift Environmental Entrepreneur. Ross holds a BS in Remote Sensing and an MS in Coastal Science and Policy from UCSC.

Company Bio
Comon Solutions is a conservation-driven technology company employing artificial intelligence to bolster efforts to protect our natural capital and the communities that rely on them. We are focused on building the world’s highest resolution species distribution mapping system to enable faster and cheaper monitoring of ecological systems. Species-level monitoring of vegetation has broad impacts across conservation, climate mitigation, forestry management, emerging polyculture-based agriculture, and more. We design, build and refine the tools that empower leading geospatial teams to provide users with unprecedented resolution maps and actionable ecological metrics.


Dr. Fatma Kaplan, Co-Founder, CEO/CSO - Dr. Fatma Kaplan is the co-founder, CEO/CSO of Pheronym and an Activate Berkeley Fellow & Berkeley Lab Affiliate Cyclotron Road Cohort 2021.  She is an entrepreneur and accomplished scientist with experience in both biology and chemistry.  She has a Ph.D. in Plant Mol. and Cell. Biol. and postdoctoral training in Natural Product Chemistry, focusing on isolating biologically active compounds. Dr. Kaplan discovered the first sex pheromone of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans and published it in Nature in 2008. Then she discovered that pheromones regulate other behaviors in both parasitic and beneficial nematodes. Finally, Dr. Kaplan conducted the first agricultural biocontrol experiment in Space at the International Space Station in 2020.Dr. Kaplan co-founded Pheronym to bring nematode pheromone technology to the market.

Company Overview: Pheronym uses a new kind of pheromone to manage microscopic roundworms called nematodes for eco-friendly agricultural pest control. Recently, Europe banned huge number of pesticides, leaving farmers in need of eco-friendly pest control solutions. Pheronym controls all nematodes, both beneficial and harmful. Pheromones are communication signals and have been used successfully to control insect pests above ground, in the air. The pheromones Pheronym is developing are water-soluble and can be used to control pests in the soil. Pheronym's first two applications are the following. First, we can use pheromones to influence beneficial nematodes that will feed on insect pests. Second, we can treat seeds with pheromones that will repel bad nematodes that attack plant roots. Since pheromones are effective at very low concentrations, our techniques have a minimal footprint. Through our pheromones, we are creating a much-needed eco-friendly solution for farmers across the world.


As principal of his own company, The RevLaunch Company for over twenty years, Gerry Barañano provides go-to-market strategies and strategic business development for tech companies and gets them their first paying customers. 

In 2012 Gerry Barañano co-founded Tech Futures Group and served both as the director and an entrepreneur-in-residence for the Tech Futures Group from 2014 to 2020. Tech Futures Group, a non-profit funded by the US Small Business Administration and the State of California is a group of experienced advisors who act as the complete advisory board of select startups and small, established tech companies. Since its inception, TFG helped more than 750 companies raise over $400 million in equity and government grants.

In his career, Gerry was VP of Marketing and Sales for companies ranging in size from Fortune 100 to startups. He was instrumental in selling a technology startup for over $3.2 billion dollars. Gerry is a graduate of Yale University and earned an MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business.

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