Researchers and technology entrepreneurs with an enthusiasm for high-science can take advantage of the Innovation Partnership Program (iPart) to improve their capacity to take their product from concept to pilot and, eventually, to market and seek federal funding.
Our Get the 360 ° panel features Kelly Wylam, the director of the Innovation Partnership program who will talk about the how to take advantage of the program to achieve the best outcomes. Two Ben Franklin Portfolio clients, Aaron Lewis, CEO of Sphere Brakes and Maureen Mulvihill, both who have participated in seeking SBIR funding will share their experience and how it has helped their business receive funding and access to potential markets.
Wylam has over 25 years of experience with a variety of businesses and economic development programs/initiatives in Pennsylvania. Her current position is Directing the Innovation Partnership (IPart), PA’s premiere SBIR/ STTR statewide assistance program. Ms. Wylam was a part of the IPart’s origination team, spearheaded by PA DCED in 2002. IPart is truly a statewide collaboration, bringing to bear the counseling, business assistance resources of more than 18 PA-based organizations & institutions of higher education (75+ locations), assisting tech-based entrepreneurs and existing businesses to grow and thrive in the Commonwealth.
Ms. Wylam provides clients with business-focused counseling, grant proposal assistance/training, and supports the IPart’s network of member organizations throughout PA. She is seasoned in grant preparation, funding acquisition, program & project management, and financial administration.
Previously, Ms. Wylam served the Commonwealth’s businesses in DCED’s Office of Technology Investment, managing the Pennsylvania Initiative for Nanotechnology (PIN), providing oversight for the BFTDA’s University Grant Funding and Keystone Innovation Starter Kit (KISK) programs, and working with technology-focused businesses seeking state funding and assistance. Ms. Wylam has also worked at PA DCED in the business financing area, managing pooled bond financings, and small business lending and grant programs.
AJ is the founder and CEO of Sphere Brakes located in Erie, PA. He is a licensed Project Management Professional and credentialed Risk Management Professional. AJ joined the NC National Guard after graduating high school, then joined ECU ROTC during his freshman year in college. He commissioned in December 2007 ranked in the top 7% of cadets in the nation. Unlike most Distinguished Military Graduates, AJ decided to join the 30th Heavy Combat Brigade and deploy with the North Carolina National Guard to Iraq. He served as the Unit Mobilization Officer and led the first Company Intelligence Support Team in COP Dolby. He was then assigned as Fire Direction Officer for a platoon of M777 howitzers in Fallujah in support of a Marine Ground Task Force unit. His final assignment in combat was to secure a COP in Southern Baghdad during the US force draw down. Upon his return from Iraq, AJ continued serving in the PA National Guard as Battalion Fire Support Officer, Rear Detachment Commander, and Company Commander of HHC 1-112th Stryker IN. Concurrent with serving the National Guard, AJ ran several global businesses at GE Transportation while launching his company Sphere Brakes. After securing angel funding in 2015, he pursued Sphere Brakes full time. Sphere Brakes has graduated from Endless Frontier Labs cohort out of NYU, is currently executing two large defense contracts for Marine Corps Systems Command and the US Army Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office, is competing as a finalist in Army’s xTechSearch 6 competition and continuing to build out other commercial lines of business.
Maureen L. Mulvihill, Life Sciences Pennsylvania 2020 CEO of the Year, has been recognized over 35 times nationally and internationally for her entrepreneurial leadership. In 2017, she was a US delegate to the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in India. She has been appointed to the Life Sciences PA Board of Directors (BOD), AdvaMed BOD and AdvaMed Accel BOD to give voice to small emerging medical device companies. She also sits on the Industrial Advisory Board for the Penn State Center for Biodevices and Regional Board for Kish Bank. She is an alumnus of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business program. She received her Ph.D. from Penn State and has over 25 US and International patents.
About 15 years ago, she co-founded Actuated Medical, Inc. on the entrepreneurial idea that electronically controlled motion can solve clinical needs and improve patient outcomes. By establishing an ‘internal’ start-up ecosystem, her team has the infrastructure to incubate creative ideas and quickly test them. Those ideas that demonstrate market potential are de-risked with an exit goal of independent licensing partnerships. To endure the long timelines of medical device regulatory approvals and sales, Actuated is differentiated from other MedTech companies as they use a diverse financing model (e.g., SBIRs, product sales, contract revenue, equity and debt). Due to COVID-19, her team quickly reacted and within 7 days stood up an FDA compliant reusable face shield manufacturing line – shipping over 85k shields (e.g., first responders, manufacturers, schools and athletes). The quick repurposing of Actuated’s facility is one of the reasons she was selected as Life Sciences Pennsylvania 2020 CEO of the Year. In 2021, Actuated doubled their footprint to accommodate a new contract research and manufacturing business unit. Actuated has 34 issued patents (i.e., US and International) and has 6 FDA 510(k) clearances. Currently, Actuated is focused on neural implant, sensor and gastrointestinal technologies, and have 2 devices that they are engaging potential strategic partners. Actuated is the recipient of a 2014 & 2020 Small Business Administrations’ Tibbets Awards for SBIR commercialization excellence – for the TubeClear system and NeuralGlider inserter technologies, respectively.
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A Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority Initiative.
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