NanoSoft Awarded SBIR Phase II Grant from National Science Foundation to Develop Cryogenic Electron Microscopy Technology
Coventry, RI, - June 12th, 2020 - NanoSoft, LLC, a Rhode Island-based developer, manufacturer and distributor of innovative tools and instruments for cryogenic electron microscopy (Cryo-EM), has been awarded a $744,720 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for the development of their cryo-EM sample preparation robot, used by researchers for the study of biological molecules and the development of pharmaceuticals.
Cryo-EM is a burgeoning microscopy technique that allows researchers to image biological particles, like proteins, a building block of our biology, and viruses, and enables researchers to construct 3D models of them. By understanding the 3D structure of proteins and viruses we gain insight into their function. The 3D models built with cryo-EM provide understanding of how proteins work, how viruses affect proteins and how drugs interact with proteins or viruses to treat or cure disease.
“Cryo-EM is revolutionizing the way we conduct research to understand our biology”, says Michael Godfrin, President of NanoSoft. “It plays a significant part in fundamental health research and therapeutics development today. For example, cryo-EM has been integral in understanding and developing therapeutics for Covid-19, as well as cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, and more.”
Technology advances have empowered cryo-EM, however sample preparation remains a major bottleneck for the technique. Samples must be frozen with exact parameters before imaging with powerful cryo-EM microscopes, and current freezing preparation technologies are not efficient. Millions of dollars in researcher and microscope time are wasted each year, as well as time lost in the development of therapeutics due to these inefficiencies. NanoSoft was awarded the SBIR Phase II grant from the NSF to further develop and commercialize their patented sample preparation technology, which resolves these inefficiencies through more reliable freezing.
“With our technology researchers will be able to freeze a handful of samples to build 3D models of their molecules, whereas today they may need to freeze hundreds of samples, and some samples can’t be frozen appropriately at all.” says Michael Franzblau, NanoSoft Chief Technology Officer.
Once a small business is awarded a Phase I SBIR/STTR grant (up to $256,000), it becomes eligible to apply for a Phase II grant (up to $1,000,000). Small businesses with Phase II grants are eligible to receive up to $500,000 in additional matching funds with qualifying third-party investment or sales.
“NSF is proud to support the technology of the future by thinking beyond incremental developments and funding the most creative, impactful ideas across all markets and areas of science and engineering,” said Andrea Belz, Division Director of the Division of Industrial Innovation and Partnerships at NSF. “With the support of our research funds, any deep technology startup or small business can guide basic science into meaningful solutions that address tremendous needs.”
NSF accepts Phase I proposals from small businesses at any time. Small businesses with innovative science and technology solutions, and commercial potential are encouraged to apply. All proposals submitted to the NSF SBIR/STTR program, also known as America’s Seed Fund powered by NSF, undergo a rigorous merit-based review process.
“We are grateful to the NSF for the SBIR funding, which is further enabling our development to get our platform into researcher hands where it can empower and accelerate structural biology research and drug development, leading to faster, innovative treatments,” says Dr. Godfrin.
NanoSoft develops, manufactures, and sells innovative products to improve the efficiency of cryo-EM sample preparation and the ergonomics, ease of use and safety of the sample preparation workflow and its tools. Ultimately, NanoSoft is developing proprietary blotless sample preparation techniques into an unparalleled cryo-EM sample preparation robotic platform. NanoSoft sells its innovative products to researchers at universities, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies and research institutes across the globe. Founded in 2016, NanoSoft is located in Coventry, RI. More information can be found at www.nanosoftmaterials.com.
Contact: Michael Godfrin, President Email:
About America’s Seed Fund
America’s Seed Fund powered by NSF awards $200 million annually to startups and small businesses, transforming scientific discovery into products and services with commercial and societal impact. Startups working across almost all areas of science and technology can receive up to $1.75 million in funding to support research and development (R&D), helping de-risk technology for commercial success. America’s Seed Fund is congressionally mandated through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. The NSF is an independent federal agency with a budget of about $8.1 billion that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering.