TechSandBox: MetroWest Innovation Hub 


Pail and Shovel Workshops™: Deep Dives into Important Topics

TechSandBox partners with subject experts to get you the knowledge you need to make good decisions and plans; we organize workshops, seminars and classes to help you accelerate success.

April 19, 2017: Understanding the SBIR Process and Rules Workshop

Both state and Federal monies are available to help support truly innovative scientific and technological innovation, especially those needing significant investment to get to
proof of concept or early product.

The SBIR (and STTR) programs support scientific excellence and technological innovation by investing Federal research funds to build a strong economy. SBIR/STTR programs are designed to stimulate small business growth and economic development. Funding comes from NIH, DoD, DoEn, DoEdu, NASA, USDA, DoT, EPA, DHS and NIST so many types of innovation qualify.

This is a viable form of financing for startups (and others) -- and it's non dilutive!

  • We did it! :  Entrepreneurs who were successful will interactively share their experiences with and share some of the hurdles and challenges.
  • Dan Lilly, MA Small Business Development Center
  • Art Martin, MA Small Business Development Center
  • Moderated by Larry Nannis

Time: 9am-12pm

Dan and Art kick this off at 9:30am explaining the important parts of the application process, rules, terminology, do's/don'ts and qualifications

Then our two successful SBIR awardees will provide insight on their experience, offering some tips and learnings.

Followed by Q&A.

A light lunch will follow 12-12:30pm.

Where: TechSandBox, 105B South Street, Hopkinton

Fee: $50 in by April 1 (early bird); $75 until week of; $85 after,;; $85  after P$85 day of/at dooMembers: $45 through April 15

    Eric Gratz  Larry Nannis, TechSandBox 


Eric Gratz, CEO & Founder, Battery Resourcers received his PhD in material science from Boston University and was a professor and post-doc at WPI. Eric and his team were a MassChallenge Finalist and the winner of the TechSandBox Pitch Competition for Clean Tech in 2016.  Dr. Gratz is a former Assistant Research Professor at the Metal Processing Institute at WPI, he has expertise in recycling and extractive metallurgy.  Dr. Gratz completed the NSF I-Corps program, to determine the commercial feasibility of Battery Resourcers closed loop recycling and recovery process. The team focused on this project conducted 150 customer interviews to gauge receptivity and interest in their recycling process.  Dr. Gratz is the CEO and a full time employee for
Battery Resourcers. He was the PI on Battery Resourcers NSF STTR Phase I award and has also been the PI on Mass Clean Energy Center and DOE grants/awards. Dr. Gratz has also served as a SBIR reviewer for the NSF. Gratz has prior start-up experience working at NDC Power, and his Ph.D thesis was awarded the “Most Commercially Viable” thesis by Boston University Department of Mechanical Engineering in 2012.

Daniel Lilly brings the perspective of government procurement to the evening’s conversations. A Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and government sales advisor for the Procurement Technical Assistance Center within the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center Network’s Southeast Regional Office in New Bedford, Mass. since 1999, Lilly has experience with program management and technology sales management to the government and to Fortune 500 businesses. State director of the Rhode Island Procurement Technical Assistance Center for seven years, and previously National Legislative Director for the Association of Government Marketing Assistance Specialists (AGMAS), Lilly has also been a member and board member of the Rhode Island Council on Logistics Systems and Engineering Excellence. He is a graduate of Fordham University and received an MBA from the University of Massachusetts.

Art Martin is a senior business advisor/ technology specialist at the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center at Clark University. He advises nearly 200 small business clients and entrepreneurial ventures annually, providing assistance to technology-related startups, including management advice on best practices, business and product development, business planning, and access to capital.

Martin has been a founder of multiple start-ups over his 40 years of experience as an entrepreneur. Most recently he held the position as President and Chief Executive Office of incubator company FloDesign, Inc. of Wilbraham, MA during the successful spinout of FloDesign Wind Turbine. Under his leadership, FloDesign, Inc. was the recipient of three Phase I and two Phase II SBIR’s. Of particular interest was the successful DOE Phase II that resulted in the design and development of a 1KW Hydrokinetic Water Turbine with integral rim drive generator. Martin was also Founder and CEO of SFA, Inc. where he spent 16 years leading this instrument company specializing in robotic chemistry workstations for the pharmaceutical industry.

Larry Nannis was founder of KNS CPAs until his recent retirement; there, he provided financial management and tax advice to entrepreneurial companies and their owners at all levels of the growth curve. He worked with companies that received their Research and Development funding from the government.

Through Larry's membership in SBANE, he was involved in the passage of the original SBIR legislation. In addition, he sered as a past chair of SBANE.He helps startups with business and financial sense.

Larry serves on the TechSandBox Development Team.

Alon Singer is the founder and CEO of HelixBind. Dr. Singer earned his PhD in Biomedical Engineering/Biophysics at Boston University and has an extensive background in developing automated diagnostic assays. Dr. Singer was previously employed at TissueVision leading New Products Development, and Lobby10 Consulting where he worked with both early-stage and Global 500 companies assisting in business development, product development, and commercialization strategy. Dr. Singer’s technical expertise in the IVD space has led to fifteen publications, and eight inventions. As CEO of HelixBind, Dr. Singer has been awarded six SBIRs totaling roughly $5MM. HelixBind in based in Marlborough.

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