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Nathan Buehler
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Email; 503-689-3559

May 20, 2019 Media Contact
Nathan Buehler 503-689-3559

Innovative Projects Move Forward in Oregon with Business Oregon Programs

Twenty-one Oregon entrepreneurs will drive their concepts forward with funding from three different innovation and entrepreneurship programs administered by Business Oregon. The projects received funding in the past quarter and range from innovative approaches to addiction treatment to manufacturing magnetic gears.

"Our innovation programs are targeted to deliver different outcomes, but at the end of the day they all help entrepreneurs take promising new ideas to the next step, be that proving a concept or scaling into production," said Kate Sinner, innovation and entrepreneurship manager of Business Oregon. "Our work in this field is about encouraging the next big breakthrough, creating new competitive advantages for Oregon."

The three programs providing the funding are: SBIR Support Grants, Enhanced Phase 0 Grants, and High Impact Opportunity Project grants.

The Small Business Innovation and Research (SBIR) Support Grants either help entrepreneurs develop grant applications for the federal SBIR program or provide a match to successful federal awardees to further scale their projects. Business Oregon has awarded 32 application support grants totaling $140,000, and 25 SBIR matching grants totaling $2.6 million.

There have been five recent SBIR awards, all in the bioscience field. One of these recent awards went to Quantiport, which is developing technology to dramatically improve the process of measuring blood volume, which can be particularly beneficial in hemorrhage or traumatic injury situations.

The Enhanced Phase 0 program fills the capital gap for earliest stage commercialization of promising science and research, readying new companies for later private investment. Its weird name is in reference to the different phases of the SBIR program, with phase "0" being a "pre" SBIR phase. There have been 28 awards from this program, 11 in the recent round.

One of these recipients was Elex Biotech, Inc., which was founded at Portland State University to develop new drugs for the treatment of arrhythmia and heart failure. Elex Biotech's compounds treat a disease that is estimated to cause fifteen percent of unexplained sudden cardiac deaths in otherwise healthy young people. Funds will help the company test new compounds, secure patent protection, and expand business development efforts.

The High Impact Opportunity Project (HIOP) program looks for proposals that address barriers for emerging industries, support product development and testing, or expedite technology commercialization. Projects are expected to last for 6 to 18 months, and all projects support the growth of a whole industry, not an individual business or its proprietary technology.

In three rounds of funding, 66 proposals were reviewed for the HIOP program, with 15 making it through to funding, totaling $5.2 million.

One awardee from the latest round was the Oregon Organic Hazelnut Cooperative. Oregon produces 99% of the country's hazelnuts, but only a small percentage is organic. More farmers are interested in growing organic but face production bottlenecks to do it. The HIOP grant will explore ways to address the barriers to allow more Oregon hazelnut farmers to make the switch to organic farming.

These programs are all part of Business Oregon's Oregon Innovation Council (Oregon InC). A public-private partnership, Oregon InC seeks to support the creation and growth of companies with high-growth potential emerging from science and research. Oregon InC committees reviewed applications and recommended awardees to the full Innovation Council for Business Oregon funding.

Below are the twenty-one new awards made in the past quarter under the three programs.

SBIR Matching Grant Awards

Company Location Amount Summary
Quantiport Portland $48,500 Innovative technology to more quickly, easily and accurately measure blood volume. Tech is particularly aimed at use in treatment of gastrointestinal hemorrhage or traumatic injury.
Universal Adherence Portland $50,000 Further development of tech to monitor and improve adherence to eye drop medication to ensure better treatment of diseases and outcomes. Matching grant will support development of a detailed FDA approval strategy and other things to improve company's Phase II proposal.
Nzumbe Portland $150,000 Company is developing rapid, low-cost assays focusing on identifying how and where the earliest stages of diseases develop and cell differentiation happens
Virogenomics Biodevelopment Portland $99,173 Company is working on a protein therapeutic treatment for multiple sclerosis, stroke and meth addiction. Matching grant will support identifying a refolding formulation and a final stabilization formulation.
Sonas BioPharma Eugene $99,990 Expand the company's business development and marketing activities to grow its contract research business, diagnostic and screening contracts, expand the customer base, externally validate technology and expand partnerships.

Enhanced Phase 0—Spring 2019

Company Location Amount Summary
Elex Biotech Portland $99,636 Compounds for treatment of heart arrhythmias
FluxGears, Inc Portland $100,000 Magnetic gearing technologies
Genteel West Linn $99,700 Blood droplet draw for the diabetes market
Health Technology Innovations Beaverton $99,825 Integrated cryogenic electron microscopy intelligence solution for large imaging datasets in life sciences
Microflow CVO Corvallis $81,500 Flow system for chemist experiments
Nexgarden Portland $74,132 High-efficiency indoor farming facilities
ProMedix Portland $100,000 Medical device to measure dehydration
Rocket ML Lake Oswego $100,000 Machine learning platform to deliver precision medicine
Sparrow Pharmaceuticals Portland $100,000 New drugs to work in combination with corticosteroids while mitigating adverse effects
Taste for Life Portland $85,293 Therapeutic food
VOXAPOD Portland $59,914 Eco-friendly menstrual health products

HIOP Awards

Company Location Amount Summary
OTRADI Portland $604,000 Create a Bio Bridge space to retain and grow promising, scale-up, lab-based, bioscience companies in Oregon. Funds will offset the cost of TIs/equipment/lab benches, lack of which has been a roadblock for scaling up bio companies.
Oregon Aquaculture Association Various $431,246 Develop a novel, open-access knowledge management and decision support system called the Oregon Aquaculture Explorer Platform, to serve as a business planning model to guide and stimulate aquaculture investment in Oregon. Develop case study in collaboration with Siletz Tribal Business Corporation, examining feasibility of an aquaculture cluster.
Oregon Organic Hazelnut Coop Springfield $98,083 Create a road map for growers, processors, and value-added food and beverage manufacturers to fully realize the potential of Organic hazelnuts in Oregon.
ATAMI Corvallis $437,536 Establish an analytical suite in support of several rapidly-growing specialty chemical companies in the mid-Willamette Valley. Advance efforts to build a regional innovation hub and technology district focused on the specialty chemicals sector.
MERIT Salem $141,500 Conduct and publish a feasibility study with a 3rd party to determine the economic viability of a multi-cultural food hub in NE Salem that will include a test kitchen for rapid development and launch of niche-market food products.

Business Oregon, the state's economic development agency, invests in Oregon businesses, communities, and people to promote a globally competitive, diverse, and inclusive economy. The agency's services span rural community development and infrastructure financing; business retention, expansion and recruitment; export promotion and international trade; investments in industry research and development and entrepreneurship; small business assistance; and support for arts and cultural organizations.