SoCal SBIR STTR CON Speakers

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U.S. Department of Energy

The mission of the DOE SBIR/STTR Programs Office is to manage the administration and evaluation of about 2,000 Phase I and Phase II grant applications each year.  The annual budget of the DOE SBIR/STTR programs is $205M and enables the DOE to award approximately 400 Phase I and II grants every year.

Christopher O’Gwin
SBIR/STTR Commercialization & Outreach Assistance Program Manager at U.S. Department of Energy and Phase 0 Program
Mr. O’Gwin (Chris) is principally responsible for managing the DOE SBIR/STTR Outreach and Assistance program. In this capacity, he facilitates a nationwide effort to develop and increase its underrepresented small business research and development base in search of SBIR/STTR grant opportunities. Chris manages the DOE Phase 0 Outreach and Assistance program and coordinates our outreach efforts at state, regional and national conferences. The Phase 0 program offers specialized Phase I proposal preparation and review assistance to eligible applicants from underrepresented groups and states.

The National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR)

NIDILRR is the federal government’s primary disability research agency. It’s mission is to generate new knowledge and to promote its effective use to improve the abilities of individuals with disabilities to perform activities of their choice in the community, and to expand society’s capacity to provide full opportunities and accommodations for its citizens with disabilities.

Brian Bard
SBIR Program Manager
NIDILRR plays a unique role in that its target population includes all disability types and all age groups. While other federal research entities fund prevention, cure, and acute rehabilitation research, NIDILRR also invests in rehabilitation research that is tied more closely to longer-term outcomes, such as independence, community participation, and employment.

U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)’s highly competitive SBIR program awards contracts to domestic small businesses to pursue research on and develop innovative solutions to our nation’s transportation challenges. The U.S. DOT SBIR program favors research that has the potential for commercialization through products and applications sold to the private sector transportation industry, state departments of transportation, U.S. DOT, or other federal agencies. Small businesses that participate in U.S. DOT’s SBIR program have developed numerous new and innovative technologies that have benefited the department and the public, while providing a basis for growth for small businesses. Over the past five years, the U.S. DOT SBIR program has invested $50 million in qualified small businesses.

Rachael Barolsky Sack is the chief of the U.S. DOT Volpe Center’s Innovative Research Program Office, and she serves as the director of the U.S. DOT Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. Sack’s work focuses on innovative approaches to program design and communication strategies for sharing information on emerging technologies, best practices, and related policies.

Clare Masucci is an Operations Research Analyst in the Innovative Research Program Office. Masucci supports U.S. DOT’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program and the Intelligent Transportation Systems Joint Program Office’s Data program, among a variety of other projects at Volpe. She holds a bachelor’s degree with majors in chemistry and society, technology, and policy from Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) provides global leadership for a research, training, and education program to promote the prevention and treatment of heart, lung, and blood disorders and enhance the health of all individuals so that they can live longer and more fulfilling lives. The NHLBI Small Business Program supports research and development by US-owned and operated small businesses on innovative and commercially promising products to prevent, diagnose, and treat heart, lung, and blood-related diseases and disorders.

Stephanie Davis

National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR)

The mission of the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) is to promote and improve the health of individuals, families, and communities. To achieve its mission, NINR supports research and research training through grants and fellowships. Part of the NINR Division of Extramural Science Programs (DESP), NINR Program Directors are scientists who oversee the conduct of research programs within specific science areas. They are the main points of contact between NINR and the extramural research community and serve as an advocate and resource for applicants and investigators seeking NINR research and training grants. NINR-supported research is divided into five areas of science: Symptom Science, Wellness, Self-Management, Technology and Training, and End-of-Life and Palliative Care.

Kristopher Bough
Program Director, Small Business Innovation Research & Technology
Dr. Bough is the Director of the SBIR/STTR and Technology program at the National Institute of Nursing Research where he oversees a diverse portfolio of healthcare technologies. Prior to joining NIH, Dr. Bough was a Program Director at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) for 12 years where he oversaw SBIR/STTR and research project grants focused on the discovery of new therapeutics for addiction (2008-2020). Prior to joining NIDA, Dr. Bough worked as a Pharmacologist at the US Food & Drug Administration/Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (2005-2008). He is interested in the development of biomarkers and digital health technologies to improve health and wellness. Dr. Bough holds a B.S. degree in Biology from Gettysburg College and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Biology (neuroscience) from Georgetown University.Dr. Bough is the Director of the SBIR/STTR and Technology program at the National Institute of Nursing Research where he oversees a diverse portfolio of healthcare technologies. Prior to joining NIH, Dr. Bough was a Program Director at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) for 12 years where he oversaw SBIR/STTR and research project grants focused on the discovery of new therapeutics for addiction (2008-2020). Prior to joining NIDA, Dr. Bough worked as a Pharmacologist at the US Food & Drug Administration/Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (2005-2008). He is interested in the development of biomarkers and digital health technologies to improve health and wellness. Dr. Bough holds a B.S. degree in Biology from Gettysburg College and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Biology (neuroscience) from Georgetown University.

National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR)

The mission of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) is to improve dental, oral, and craniofacial health. The agency performs and supports basic, translational, and clinical research; conducts and funds research training and career development programs to ensure an adequate number of talented, well-prepared, and diverse investigators; coordinating and assisting relevant research and research-related activities among all sectors of the research community; and promotes the timely transfer of knowledge gained from research and its implications for health to the public, health professionals, researchers, and policy-makers.

Dr. Orlando Lopez is the Director of the Dental Materials and Biomaterials Program at the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR). Dr. Lopez contributes to programmatic efforts to strengthen NIDCR’s bio-materials portfolio in basic science and translational research dedicated to restoration and repair of dental and craniofacial tissues. He manages the NIDCR SBIR and STTR programs technology innovation grants. Additionally, he oversees an interagency agreement with NIST dedicated to establishing performance standards for dental materials; and serves on various NIH and interagency committees focused on new enabling technologies, regenerative medicine, and computational modeling.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

The EPA’s SBIR program focuses on developing and commercializing innovative technologies that address the Agency’s mission of protecting human health and the environment. EPA topic areas include air and climate, water, green manufacturing and homeland security.

April Richards is the Program Manager of the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). April has worked as a fellow on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee where she provided technical expertise on environmental issues. She worked for five years in private industry with an environmental engineering consulting firm in Florida primarily in the area of drinking water treatment. She has a Master’s degree in Civil/Environmental Engineering and is a professional engineer.

U.S. Department of Education

The U.S. Department of Education’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, operated out of its research arm, the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), provides up to $1,100,000 in funding to small businesses and partners for research and development to translate their innovative ideas into commercial products that address educational problems in education and special education. ED/IES SBIR-supported awardees have brought emerging and innovative forms of learning and instructional technologies to classrooms, such as games, assessments, virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), 3D-printing, simulations, virtual worlds, AI adaptive tutors, data dashboards, and assistive technologies. Many ED/IES SBIR-supported products have won national industry awards for technological innovation in education.

Edward Metz, PhD is U.S. Department of Education SBIR program Manager and Education Research Analyst with the Institute of Education Sciences. As a research scientist at the US Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences, Dr. Metz directs programs that seed fund the R&D and evaluation of innovative and commercially viable forms of education technology. He leads the “ED Games Expo,” an annual event since 2013 that convenes 30+ other Federal programs that support innovation in “edtech” and showcases more than 150 learning games and technologies.

National Science Foundation (NSF)

The NSF has helped startups and small businesses transform their ideas into marketable products and services. The agency focuses on high-risk, high-impact technologies — those that show promise but whose success has not yet been validated. Each year, the NSF awards $200 million in funding to entrepreneurs across the country. Its goals are to foster innovation and help create businesses and jobs in the United States.

Ben Schrag, PhD is the Senior Program Director for the SBIR/STTR programs. He joined the NSF as a Program Director in 2009, leading the Advanced Materials and Instrumentation. Prior to NSF, he was the Director of Research and Development at Micro Magnetics, where he led a development effort to commercialize a new family of high-performance magnetic microsensor products for demanding consumer and military applications. During this time, he also served as a visiting scientist at Brown University and as the Principal Investigator on a number of federal grants and contracts, including NSF Phase I and Phase II Small Business Innovation Research projects and an Advanced Technology Program award from NIST. Ben received his Ph.D. in Physics from Brown University.

Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)

For sixty years, DARPA has held to a singular and enduring mission: to make pivotal investments in breakthrough technologies for national security.Working with innovators inside and outside of government, DARPA has repeatedly delivered on that mission, transforming revolutionary concepts and even seeming impossibilities into practical capabilities. The ultimate results have included not only game-changing military capabilities such as precision weapons and stealth technology, but also such icons of modern civilian society such as the Internet, automated voice recognition and language translation, and Global Positioning System receivers small enough to embed in myriad consumer devices.

Jennifer Thabet is Program Director, DARPA Small Business Programs Office. She is an experienced program manager with an extensive background supporting DARPA and the DoD. Enhancing the ability of the small business community to create and transition revolutionary technologies that benefit the warfighter, federal government, and commercial marketplace is of paramount importance in her role. She is focused on creating an environment that considers small business concerns a primary source of innovative solutions and advancing small business relationships and training opportunities within the DoD and other federal agencies.

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) – National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)

NIFA — a federal agency within the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) — is part of USDA’s Research, Education, and Economics (REE) mission area. The agency administers federal funding to address the agricultural  issues impacting people’s daily lives and the nation’s future. NIFA programs propel cutting-edge discoveries from research laboratories to farms, classrooms, communities, and back again. Through three main federal-funding mechanisms, NIFA supports programs that address key national challenge areas.

Kelly McDonald is the Program Specialist at the Division of Bioenergy with the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).

Naval-X/Tech Bridge Discussion Panel

The U.S. Department of the Navy’s NavalX Tech Bridges are focused on increasing collaboration, knowledge sharing, and innovation with leading-edge tech companies and innovation partners to accelerate solutions to the warfighter. Of the twelve total NavalX Tech Bridges across the country, there are three in the Southern California region, Ventura (Ventura, CA), Inland Empire (Norco, CA), and SoCal (San Diego, CA) each with their respective technology focus areas. The NavalX Tech Bridges are a connected network that enhances collaboration between Naval Labs, industry, academia, and other military branches to unlock emerging technology through non-traditional partnerships. These collaborative efforts amognst strategic partners within the region are the foundation for a better business model unlocking the future of Department of Defense research and development, requirements development, and prototyping.

Brian Suh
Director, Technology Commercialization, UC Riverside 

Brian Suh is the Director of Technology Commercialization at University of California, Riverside (UCR) Office of Technology Partnerships. He oversees and manages all aspects of Technology Commercialization and its staff, which includes the development, protection, marketing, and commercialization of UCR’s campus research and intellectual property (IP); outreach to the UCR campus community on IP and technology commercialization; and engagement with the external community on UCR’s research capabilities, technologies available for licensing and commercialization, and to promote economic development. Brian came to UCR in November 2015 from a U.S. Navy laboratory, SPAWAR Systems Center Pacific, in San Diego, CA where he was employed since June 2002, most recently as the Director of their Technology Transfer Office. He is a former Federal Laboratory Consortium (FLC) Far West Regional Coordinator and recipient of 2013 FLC National Laboratory Representative of the Year award. Brian holds a BS in Electrical Engineering from Michigan State University and received his MBA from the Rady School of Management at University of California, San Diego. He also holds the Certified Licensing Professional (CLP) certification.


Shadi Azoum is NAVWAR Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program Manager, NAVWAR Rapid Innovation Fund (RIF) Program Manager, and NavalX SBIR/STTR Liaison Officer (LNO). Mr. Shadi Azoum The DON SBIR/STTR Programs are mission-oriented programs that integrate the needs and requirements of the DON’s Fleet through research and development (R&D) topics that have dual-use potential, but primarily address the needs of the DON.

Troy Clarke is the Inland Empire’s Tech Bridge Director / Strategic Advisor, Naval Surface Warfare Center, Corona Division. He advises senior leadership and was the former award-winning Director of Public and Congressional Affairs for the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Corona Division, where he oversees strategic engagement and communication for the command. As part of the Command’s senior leadership, Clarke charted strategy for the visual information group and the community outreach program for the command since 2007.

Jennifer Stewart is NSWC Corona ORTA Technology Transfer (T2)/SBIR Program Manager and FLC Laboratory Representative with the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Corona Division.

Alan Yaeger is the Ventura Tech Bridge Director and serves as the Research and Technology Applications Manager (ORTA) for the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Port Hueneme Division where he manages the research and technology applications related to intellectual property and technology transition for a federal laboratory of over 2,300 engineers, technicians and logisticians. Alan is a technology management professional and has worked for the Federal, State and Local Governments as well as the academic and private sector; providing him with a unique perspective on organizational perspectives, interfaces and information sharing.

Whitney Tallarico
Tech Bridge Director at NavalX

Department of the Navy

Robert Smith is Director of the Department of the Navy (DON) SBIR/STTR and Special Programs, Office of Naval Research. He conducts high-level interaction with Admirals, Generals, and Senior Executives within the Department of Defense, Federal Agencies, other state and local agencies, industry, large prime contractors and small businesses along with fledgling innovators, academia and professional staff members for various congressional committees, as well as elected officials in both the House and Senate. He recommends policy initiation and implement changes with the goal of increasing small business participation in Department of the Navy’s research programs.

National Institute of Neurologic Diseases (NINDS)

The mission of NINDS is to seek fundamental knowledge about the brain and nervous system and to use that knowledge to reduce the burden of neurological disease. To support this mission, NINDS supports and performs basic, translational, and clinical neuroscience research through grants-in-aid, contracts, scientific meetings, and through research in its own laboratories, and clinics; funds and conducts research training and career development programs to increase basic, translational and clinical neuroscience expertise and ensure a vibrant, talented, and diverse work force, and promotes the timely dissemination of scientific discoveries and their implications for neurological health to the public, health professionals, researchers, and policy-makers.

Emily Caporello, PhD is Director, Division of Translational Research, NINDS Small Business Program, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health. Caporello oversees a portfolio of small business innovative research (SBIR), small business technology transfer (STTR), and BRAIN Technology Integration and Dissemination projects. Prior to NINDS, Dr. Caporello was the Vice President of Research at MindX Corporation, during which she directed research on the development and translation of brain-computer interface systems for a variety of applications. Dr. Caporello also spent four years as a Science and Engineering Technical Advisor to the Biological Technologies Office (BTO), Microsystems Technologies Office (MTO) and Defense Sciences Office (DSO) at the Defense Advanced Research Agency (DARPA). As a SETA she was the technical lead and key developer of multiple neuroscience programs focused on neural interfaces, brain imaging, and data analysis tools. She also co-founded a company, CleverPet, based on her postdoctoral work at USCD on automated training of complex behavior in animals. Dr. Caporello received her B.S. in Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience from Johns Hopkins University, and her Ph.D. from the University of California San Diego where she performed research in cortical auditory processing and attention in songbirds.

Partnerships for Innovation (PFI), Division of Industrial Innovation and Partnerships (IIP), Directorate of Engineering, National Science Foundation

The Partnerships for Innovation (PFI) Program within the Division of Industrial Innovation and Partnerships (IIP) offers researchers from all disciplines of science and engineering funded by NSF the opportunity to perform translational research and technology development, catalyze partnerships and accelerate the transition of discoveries from the laboratory to the marketplace for societal benefit. PFI has five broad goals, as set forth by the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act of 2017 (“the Act”, S.3084 — 114th Congress; Sec. 602. Translational Research Grants): (1) identifying and supporting NSF-sponsored research and technologies that have the potential for accelerated commercialization; (2) supporting prior or current NSF-sponsored investigators, institutions of higher education, and non-profit organizations that partner with an institution of higher education in undertaking proof-of-concept work, including the development of technology prototypes that are derived from NSF-sponsored research and have potential market value; (3) promoting sustainable partnerships between NSF-funded institutions, industry, and other organizations within academia and the private sector with the purpose of accelerating the transfer of technology; (4) developing multi-disciplinary innovation ecosystems which involve and are responsive to the specific needs of academia and industry; (5) providing professional development, mentoring, and advice in entrepreneurship, project management, and technology and business development to innovators.

Katie Bratlie, PhD is Program Director of Partnerships for Innovation (PFI), Division of Industrial Innovation and Partnerships (IIP), Directorate of Engineering, National Science Foundation. She joined NSF as a Program Director for the Partnerships for Innovation (PFI) program in June 2020. Since 2011, Katie has been an Assistant Professor in the Department of Materials Science & Engineering and the Department of Chemical & Biological Engineering at Iowa State University. Her current research thrusts include the development of biomaterials for medical applications and evaluation of these materials in in vitro and in vivo contexts for drug delivery and regenerative medicine. She received the NSF BRIGE Award in 2012, the ISU Honors Mentor Award in 2014, was nominated “Outstanding Faculty Member” by the Interfraternity Council in 2015 and won both the Akinc Excellence in Research and Teaching Awards in 2015. Katie earned her B.S. from the University of Minnesota and her PhD from the University of California, Berkeley.

Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)

The mission of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) is to ensure that every person is born healthy and wanted, that women suffer no harmful effects from the reproductive process, that all children have the chance to fulfill their potential to live healthy and productive lives free from disease or disability, and to ensure the health, productivity, independence, and well-being of all people through optimal rehabilitation. In pursuit of this mission, NICHD conducts and supports laboratory research, clinical trials, and epidemiological studies that explore health processes; examines the impact of disabilities, diseases, and defects on the lives of individuals and families; and sponsors training programs for scientists, doctors, and researchers to ensure that NICHD research can continue. NICHD research programs incorporate events that happen prior to and throughout pregnancy, as well as during childhood, human growth and development, reproductive health of women and men, and developing medical rehabilitation interventions can improve the health and well-being of people with disabilities.

Mindy Bixby is the Manager of Grants Management—SBIR/STTR Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD).

Louis Quatrano

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

The mission of the NIMH is to transform the understanding and treatment of mental illnesses through basic and clinical research, paving the way for prevention, recovery, and cure. The goal of the NIMH Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs is to support small businesses to develop technologies that can advance the mission of the Institute, including basic neuroscience research, translational and clinical research, clinical diagnosis and treatment, and dissemination and implementation of evidence-based research on mental disorders. NIMH SBIR/STTR Program Staff are committed to working with applicants and awardees to support research and development of innovative technologies by small businesses that have the potential to succeed commercially or to provide significant societal benefits, in the areas of neuroscience and mental health.

Paige Anderson is Scientific Program Analyst, SBIR/STTR Programs, NIMH. She works as part of the Division of Neuroscience and Basic Behavioral Science to support Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. Paige was previously a technical training and project management specialist with wet-lab experience in Private Biotech and Academia. Her research topics of focus are Immunology, Biochemistry, Pharmacology, Neuroscience and Medicinal Chemistry.

Dr. Meg Grabb is Program Director for the Novel Pharmacologic and Device-based Intervention Program for Pediatrics, in the Division of Translational Research at NIMH.  The overall goal of the program is to support early-stage testing of investigational drugs and brain stimulation devices in pediatric psychiatric populations.  The program also focuses on biomarker development for stratification and in pharmacodynamic designs.  A priority is training the next generation of pediatric clinical trialists, in collaboration with the NICHD.  She has received the NIH Director’s Award for establishing the Fast Fail Autism Program to enable testing of investigational agents in autism spectrum disorder.  Additionally, Dr. Grabb oversees the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Programs at the NIMH, with an annual budget of > $50M that supports a diverse technology portfolio ranging from the latest advancements in areas such as optogenetics and large-scale electrophysiological recording, to drug and device development, high throughput screening tools, biomarkers and digital health technologies.  Recently, she was selected to co-lead the BRAIN Initiative dissemination team at NIH.  Dr. Grabb has received several NIMH Director’s Awards for achievements in program development, leadership and management.

U. S. Force Research Labs (AFRL) – Academic Partnership Engagement Experiment (APEX)

We are the Academic Partnership Engagement Experiment – a U.S. Air Force Partnership Intermediary through Wright State Applied Research Corporation and supported by the Air Force Research Laboratory Small Business Office. Our team is comprised of serial entrepreneurs, retired military members, scientists, academic researchers and former U.S. Department of Defense executive leaders. Our standard for excellence is built on the diversity of our backgrounds that have afforded us a deep understanding of the importance of the APEX mission that supports the U.S. Air Force Science & Technology Strategy.

Kathleen Gilpin is Director of National Engagement for the Academic Partnership Engagement Experiment (APEX) at Wright State Research Institute, whose mission it is to bridge the gap amongst industry, academia, and government entities to advance research opportunities for the Air Force. She is a research scientist with a passion for bridging the gap between academic research and government applications. Concurrently, a Commander in the Navy Reserves with four command tours and 15 years of leadership and management experience.

U.S. Army Research Office

The vision of the Office of Small Business Programs at the Army Research Office is to be the premier advocacy organization committed to maximizing small business opportunities in support of Army’s basic extramural research programs. Our goal is to enable participation of Small Business (SB), Small Disadvantaged Business (SDB), Service Disabled Veteran Owned (SDVOSB), Veteran Owned Small Business (VOSB), Woman-Owned Small Business (WOSB), and Historically Under-Utilized Business Zone (HUBZone) businesses seeking to work with us to the greatest extent practicable. he overarching goals of the SBIR and STTR programs are: (1) stimulate technological innovation, (2) increase small business participation in federal R&D, (3) increase private sector commercialization of technology developed through federal R&D, and (4) foster and encourage participation in federal R&D by businesses that are owned by women and socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.

Nicole Fox is the Army Research Office SBIR/STTR Program Manager managing $29 Million in extramural funding. She reviews and recommends improvements for program execution processes (topic selection, proposal evaluation, and contract award and execution). Oversees proposal evaluation process and conducts debriefings. Tracks and reports fiscal year execution rates and improvements. She manages scientific and technical information generated from the Army’s extramural Basic Science Research Program, including data management, information retrieval, report/document preparation, and information presentation.

SBIR Expert Topic Workshop

“Designing & Managing an Effective Commercialization Plan”


Sean Jasso PhD is Professor of Practice at the A. Gary Anderson School of Business. Sean Jasso holds a BA in literature from UCLA, MBA from Pepperdine University, a master of public policy and Ph.D. in political economy from Claremont Graduate University. He writes, teaches, and consults in the areas of political economy, public policy, strategic management, and business ethics. Working for several years in the hospitality and healthcare industries, he combines his training in service, leadership, and politics into his own consulting practice serving local and national government agencies as well as various global entrepreneurial organizations. He delivers seminars, workshops, and speeches on the global economy, public policy, and leadership. His objective in teaching, research, and consulting has always been to build a transdisciplinary approach of applying political and management theories and applications to help organizations and individuals reach their potential in what he calls The New Corporation.

SBIR Expert Topic Workshop

“Designing & Management of a Research Plan for SBIR Funding”

Gillian Wilson PhD is Senior Associate Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development and Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of California Riverside. As Senior Associate Vice Chancellor, Professor Wilson is spearheading new multidisciplinary research initiatives in the areas of water, aging and precision agriculture. She also serves as Director of UCR’s first Multidisciplinary Research Building. She is co-PI/Academic Champion for NSF I-Corps and Blackstone Launchpad grants which have brought prestigious NSF Innovation Corps Site status and more than $1M to fund new innovation and entrepreneurship programs for UCR faculty, postdocs and students at UC Riverside. She is co-leading “OASIS Innovations”, an industry attraction proposal to accelerate the validation, demonstration and commercialization of new technologies to solve today’s most pressing sustainability challenges in the fields of renewable energy, transportation, clean logistics, precision agriculture, air and water.

SBIR Expert Topic Workshop

“Developing Effective Corporate Alliances for SBIR Research and Commercialization”

Derek Drost, Ph.D.
Biosciences Innovation Manager, California Research Alliance (CARA) at BASF

Keith J. Marcinowski
Ph.D., Principal Scientist, Technology Scouting and Innovation The J.M. Smucker Company

Claudia Roessler
Agriculture – Strategic Partnerships, Principle Program Manager Azure Global Engineering

Alex Primis
Global Enterprise Lead, Academic and Industrial Markets – Corporate Accounts
Thermo Fisher Scientific

Keith L. Chun, M.D.
New Venture Transactions | Johnson & Johnson Innovation | California Innovation Center

EPIC Small Business Development Corporation (EPIC SBDC)

“Angel and Venture Capitalist Perspectives on SBIR Funding” (Investor Panel)

Scott Brovsky is an angel investor, startup mentor and the Director of EPIC SBDC at the University of California Riverside. Scott has been a Founder or Founding Executive of a number of startups including the VC funded mobile games studio Muti Labs, the Temecula based sports tech company NZN Labs/LIT Pro and he sold his first company, Industrial Strength Network (an early interactive agency), to frog design as an acquihire in 1998. Scott was part of the global leadership team at Disney that worked for the three years to build The Avengers franchise into a global powerhouse with his focus being the interactive games space. He led the successful launch of Avengers Alliance on Facebook and Avengers Initiative on mobile and with 40 million plus people having played the games, they have been a hit with the fans and critics alike. Scott pioneered a big idea and an industry first, premiering The Hulk TV spot promoting the film in the Facebook game before it aired on national television. He championed and helped build a community called Marvel XP – a free live service that tracks gamer progression, rewards achievement and provides connected storytelling across Marvel mobile and social games. Scott has a Humanities Honors degree from The University of Texas at Austin where he graduated Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa.

UC Riverside NSF I-Corps

“I-Corps Business Model Generation for SBIR Funding”

Dr. Jay Gilberg is an instructor at EPIC. As an entrepreneur, Jay founded and built an INC 500 Company, recognized as one of the 500 fastest growing, privately held companies in the US over a 5-year period. Since selling that company, he has been active as a business advisor and consultant, a real estate investor, and spent 4 years as lead instructor of entrepreneurism in the von Liebig Center’s I-Corps Program. Jay’s specializations are often referred to as “soft skills” or the “human side” of enterprise. He is an expert at determining and communicating professional goals, developing presentation skills and pitching, building a good reputation and a good network of contacts, recruiting founders and key employees, attracting investors and clients and creating a personal brand, team and organization that is inspirational and aspirational. At the von Liebig Center, Jay taught numerous cohorts of NSF I-Corps students who aim to commercialize their research and technologies. He utilizes Steve Blank’s Lean Launchpad and Business Model Canvas extensively, as well as the business development models used at CONNECT and influences from Bill Aulet of MIT and HBR cases to teach many engineers how to think business. In the Fall of 2016, Jay transitioned to EPIC at UC Riverside where he continues to teach in the NSF I-Corps Program, to mentor emerging companies and to help build the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

SBIR Expert Topic Workshop

“Developing Effective Corporate Alliances for SBIR Research and Commercialization” (Expert Panel)

James Llano is the Associate Director of Strategic Partnerships, Corporate and Strategic Partnerships. As Associate Director for Corporate & Strategic Partnerships with a focus on the College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences at UCR, Mr. Llano works in designing and executing strategies focused on agricultural sciences, life sciences, and physical sciences which build, sustain and expand beneficial relationships with the private sector and UCR, its colleges, departments, faculty, and students. Through this role, he develops and manage corporate partnership opportunities, and match UCR assets to the needs of industry. Located on nearly 1,200 scenic acres in Inland Southern California and distinguished by more than 60 years of high-impact research, UC Riverside (UCR) is a living laboratory for the exploration of issues critical to growing communities. One of the most diverse, inclusive institutions within the prestigious 10 campus University of California system, UCR serves as an incubator of new knowledge, an engine of social mobility, and an economic powerhouse.

SBIR Expert Topic Workshop

“Developing and Managing Effective Project Plans”


Dr. Ken Gruys is a Senior Advisor in Technology Partnerships at UC-Riverside, and is a Professor and Director of Team Master’s Project at Keck Graduate Institute in Claremont, CA. Ken was an NIH Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute for Enzyme Research and the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and in 2009 completed the Stanford Executive Program at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business in Palo Alto, CA. Ken has 25 years of R&D experience in the private sector working primarily in the area of Agricultural Biotechnology. Ken is a recognized technology innovator and leader, and in his various roles has overseen the discovery and development of valuable Biotech traits in crops. In addition to his passion in the development of new products through scientific innovation, Ken has been an instructor on project planning and leadership, and the development of successful teams. Fostering individual growth and development is a hallmark of Ken’s philosophy to organizational success.

UC Riverside Research and Economic Development

Rodolfo H. Torres PhD – Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development


Dr. Rodolfo H. Torres is the Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development (VC-RED) and a Distinguished Professor of Mathematics at the University of California, Riverside (UCR).   As (VC-RED) he provides a broad vision and executive leadership for campus-wide research initiatives and is responsible for inspiring and managing a diverse portfolio of research and creative activity, as well as economic development activities in coordination with the region, state, and other external partners, via technology transfer, commercialization of intellectual property, entrepreneurship, and affiliations with established companies. oversees sponsored programs, research integrity, research development, technology partnerships, and core facilities. He provides broad vision and executive leadership for research policy and planning on campus, as well for a diverse portfolio of economic development activities in the region. Before arriving to UCR in 2019, Torres was University Distinguished Professor of Mathematics, at the University of Kansas (KU) where he served for more than six years in the Office of Research, first as Associate Vice Chancellor and then as Interim Vice Chancellor for Research and President of the Kansas University Center for Research Inc. (KUCR). He is also a former Faculty Senate President at KU. Torres did his undergraduate studies at the Universidad Nacional de Rosario, Argentina, received his Ph.D. in Mathematics from Washington University in St. Louis, and held postdoctoral positions at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences of New York University and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, before moving to KU.

UC Riverside Office of Technology Partnerships

The UC Riverside Office of Technology Partnerships facilitates the development and commercialization of ideas emanating from UCR and the community for the benefit of society. Reporting to the Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development, the Office of technology partnerships encompasses Technology Commercialization, Corporate & Strategic Partnerships, and Innovation & Entrepreneurship. The mission of the Office is to catalyze the translation of University research and discoveries to the private sector and to provide opportunities for the faculty, students, and community at large to explore entrepreneurial endeavors. The structure of the Office as one integrated unit, allows it to be highly effective in interacting with the private sector and the internal stakeholders as they aim at seeking collaborations with the private sector.

Dr. Rosibel Ochoa is the Associate Vice Chancellor Technology Partnerships and an Adjunct Professor for Chemical and Environmental Engineering at U.C. Riverside. The Office of Technology Partnerships accelerates economic development by transferring UC Riverside research from the lab to the private sector, facilitating academic-industry collaborations, and encouraging innovation and entrepreneurship on campus and throughout our region. She previously provided leadership to UCSD’s von Liebig Center, a unique proof-of-concept program that helps accelerate the transfer of faculty innovations into the private sector and provides entrepreneurial education to graduate students in science and engineering. She is the founder of TekDome LLC, a consulting company that provided expert advice on  strategies for intellectual property development, commercialization and licensing support. Rosibel also served as a commercialization consultant to the Research Triangle Institute, the Georgia Institute of Technology and several university startup companies. Previously, Rosibel served as Associate Director of the Office of Technology Licensing and Manager of the Industry Contracts Group at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Working with Georgia Tech’s Venture Lab, she managed proof of concept grants to faculty interested in commercialization of clean technologies. Before joining Georgia Tech, Rosibel worked at Motorola’s Energy Systems Group (ESG) and at MeadWestvaco as a research engineer, developing materials for advanced lithium polymer battery technology and carbon-based super capacitors. As part of the business strategy team at Motorola, she helped identify and evaluate new business opportunities in emerging energy technologies such as fuel cells, Bluetooth and battery chargers. Rosibel received a PhD and MS in Chemical Engineering from the University of Louisville. She is the inventor of two issued patents and the author of more than 18 scientific publications.

Orange County Inland Empire Small Business Development Center Network (OCIE SBDC)

The Orange County Inland Empire Small Business Development Center Network offers business consulting, training, and online courses to entrepreneurs and business owners throughout the Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties at no cost. This is made possible because we are partially funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) as well as other private sector funds. Since 2003, the Network Lead Center hosted by the Mihaylo College of Business and Economics at California State University, Fullerton, has been working with the SBA and contracted with six diverse educational and community development organizations to help small businesses by providing development services. Orange County Inland Empire SBDC Network was ranked #1 in the country in 2019, for its access to capital within the 1,000 SBDCs in the nation. During that year, we helped our clients obtain over $272 million in debt and equity capital for their businesses.

Mike Daniel is the Regional Director of the Orange County Inland Empire SBDC Network, which assists aspiring entrepreneurs and current business owners throughout Orange, San Bernardino and Riverside Counties. Mike was formerly the director of the SBDC office at Long Beach City College from 2010 to June 2015. As business owner and entrepreneur himself, he started his career as the owner of a Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory location in Manhattan Beach and went on to open a second location in Long Beach in 2001. At their peak, the locations had a total of 20 employees and both locations had managers and assistant managers. In 2007, Daniel sold the Manhattan Beach store for an above-market offer then invested in several additional locations as a minority shareholder. Mike currently owns a new venture located in Shoreline Village in Long Beach called, Sugar Daddies.

Orange County/Inland Empire District US Small Business Administration (OCIE SBA)

The SBA’s Orange County / Inland Empire District Office is responsible for the delivery of SBA’s programs and services to Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties. We do three things very well at the Orange County/Inland Empire District Office- Inform, Educate, and Connect.  We enjoy connecting you to the resources you need to start, grow and succeed! Over the years, the SBA has developed many small business loan programs, special outreach efforts and initiatives to inform and educate small business owners and entrepreneurs.  The following is a sample of the services and information available through the district office: No-cost business counseling, mentoring and technical assistance through SBA’s Resource Partners, including SCORE, Small Business Development Centers, and Women’s Business Centers.  These three organizations are part of the SBA family and are funded by the SBA to provide assistance to you.

J. Adalberto Quijada is Director of the Orange County/Inland Empire District US Small Business Administration. He also  serves on a temporary basis as the Acting District Director for SBA’s Hawaii District Office beginning August 1, 2020. In this role, Mr. Quijada provides senior leadership to maintain and strengthen the economies of both Hawaii and Guam by aiding, counseling, assisting, and protecting the interests of small businesses, and by helping businesses and families recover from disasters. Mr. Quijada has served around the country as a passionate advocate of small businesses. Previous assignments include serving as the acting Director of the New York District Office, as well as Los Angeles, Puerto Rico, and San Antonio. Before joining SBA, he led the marketing department of the U.S. Postal Service in Los Angeles and held an executive position as a member of the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs promoting initiatives of bilateral interest.

UC Riverside Office of Technology Partnerships

SBIR/STTR Resource Center Manager

Misty Madero leads Corporate Research Contracts at the University of California, Riverside (UCR) Office of Technology Partnerships. She is also the SBIR/STTR Resource Center Manager with the EPIC SBDC (Small Business Development Center), providing SBIR/STTR support to faculty and small businesses in the Inland Empire region. Misty came to UCR in 2012 from the Office of Industry Research Collaboration at Arizona State University and has successfully submitted over 900 proposals and executed over 900 agreements totaling over $70M dollars over the past 7 years. Misty has over 18 years’ experience in Contracts and University Sponsored Research with over 10 years working directly with corporate partners.  She holds a MA in Public Administration and BA in English from Arizona State University.

UC Riverside Office of Technology Partnerships


Dr. Martin Kleckner has 28 years experience in operations and business development in life sciences, healthcare, oil & gas, and cable television. He has advised over 115 emerging and Fortune 100 companies with corporate planning and strategy, commercialization and public policy throughout Europe, Asia & the Americas. He participated as founder or early-stage employee in five venture start-ups with two successful exits. He was a co-founder/Senior Vice President of, a Health 2.0 Internet company specializing in gastroesophageal reflux disease and Senior Advisor to Respiratory Technology Corporation (ResTech). He was co-founder of U P Laboratories in San Diego. Earlier he was an investor and lead business development for RegeneMed, a company creating three dimensional (3D) engineered liver tissue for use in drug discovery research; co-founder and Chief Business Officer for Salvino-Flex LLC wherein he managed the research and development of a chest tube insertion device, ultimately selling the company. He was also Director of Development for Science & Engineering Associates for the commercialization of a companion diagnostic technology for cervical, ovarian, and oral/pharyngeal cancers and SpyFinder, a hidden camera locator (used in a 2004 episode of CSI Miami). He has also provided commercialization advisory support and grant proposal review for the National Institutes of Health, Drexel Foundation, and Coulter Foundation.

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Mike Daniel is the network director of the Orange County Inland Empire SBDC Network, which assists aspiring entrepreneurs and current business owners throughout Orange, San Bernardino and Riverside counties. Mike was formerly the director of the SBDC office at Long Beach City College. As business owner and entrepreneur himself, he started his career as the owner of a Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory location in Manhattan Beach and went on to open a second location in Long Beach in 2001. In 2007, Mike sold the Manhattan Beach store for an above-market offer then invested in several additional locations as a minority shareholder. Mike further expanded his candy empire with venture located in Shoreline Village in Long Beach called Sugar Daddies Sweet Shoppe, based on fill-it yourself candy options.

Mike has a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from California State University, Fullerton.