Startups initiated and grown at Vanderbilt get $4.5M in federal funding, LaunchTN matching grants

Nine startups with roots at Vanderbilt have been awarded more than $4.5 million in federal Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer grants and matching funds from Launch Tennessee, with the goal of accelerating technology commercialization, innovation and job creation across the state.

The Wond’ry, Vanderbilt’s Innovation Center, and the Center for Technology Transfer and Commercialization contributed to the startups’ growth in various capacities, from assisting with ideation and R&D to facilitating invention disclosures and commercialization services.

Three startups on the list, ARMS Cyber Defense Inc., Couture Technologies and Very Real Help Inc, were founded by the Vanderbilt community and realized at the Wond’ry. CTTC worked with four companies on the list, EndoTheia Inc., IDBiologics Inc., Virtuoso Surgical Inc. and Yaya Scientific LLC. And HeroWear LLC and SkyNano LLC worked with both the Wond’ry and CTTC. Founders of these startups span Vanderbilt faculty, alumni, staff and students.

“Programs like Launch Tennessee’s SBIR/STTR matching fund grants are of immense importance to universities and research institutions in helping to leverage investments made by federal agencies through the SBIR and STTR programs. Matching fund grants have benefitted a significant number of startups that have their roots at Vanderbilt,” said Peter Rousos, director of economic and new venture development at CTTC. “We applaud Launch Tennessee and the state of Tennessee for supporting this program that has created jobs and promoted the growth of high-tech industries statewide.”

“From cutting-edge surgical robots to novel mental health support services that utilize virtual reality, the Wond’ry team couldn’t be more pleased to see these founders anchoring their businesses in Tennessee. These technologies have the potential to impact millions of lives and provide knowledge economy jobs for Tennesseans,” said Deanna Meador, director of entrepreneurship at the Wond’ry. “Deep-technology ventures can often be capital intensive. With support from the SBIR/STTR program and LaunchTN’s matching fund, these innovations and the people behind them have a much stronger chance to not only survive, but thrive.”

The SBIR and STTR programs are among the largest sources of early-stage, non-dilutive capital for technology commercialization in the U.S. They allow small businesses with strong potential for commercialization to engage in federal research and development. The programs-overseen by the National Institutes of Health-invest more than $1 billion into health and life science companies to translate promising technologies from the earliest stages to consumer markets.

Launch Tennessee is a public-private partnership with a vision to make Tennessee the most startup-friendly state in the nation, offering entrepreneurs what they need to successfully build companies and create jobs in Tennessee. According to Launch Tennessee, companies awarded their SBIR/STTR Matching Funds have created over 505 direct jobs and brought in $146,125,214 in economic impact to Tennessee-a return of $11.24 for every public dollar invested into the program.

“We are confident these companies are building technologies capable of changing the world, and we are excited to support them in their innovation efforts here at home to ensure we have a brighter and more competitive Tennessee tomorrow,” said Charles Layne, innovation manager at LaunchTN.

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