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Success Stories by National Science Foundation

Oct 2, 2014

ViewPlus Technologies, Inc.
Corvallis, OR 97333

The story of ViewPlus Technologies starts with a minor eye operation gone awry. One day in 1988, John A. Gardner was a physics professor at Oregon State University. The next, he was blind.

When he returned to work, he encountered enormous barriers. For one, he could no longer understand graphically displayed data, like diagrams and structured mathematics. For a renowned solid-state physicist, this was no small problem. Alas, the solutions that existed tools to render data comprehensible through touch and sound were scarce and incomplete. So, calling upon the age-old maxim of entrepreneurship - if you want something done right, do it yourself - Gardener resolved to close the communications gap between himself and his sighted colleagues himself.

In 1991, with sponsoring from the National Science Foundation, he kicked off a research program at Oregon State. The work progressed steadily, racking up...

Oct 2, 2014

Qualcomm Inc.
San Diego, CA 92121

“When you’re being innovative, there are always skeptics.”So says Dr. Irwin Jacobs, co-founder of the world’s leading provider of wireless technology and services, Qualcomm.

Jacobs knows this lesson well. In 1985, Qualcomm was a small company providing R&D to the government. But its real goal was to become a fully integrated, research-to-manufacturing business. So, Jacobs and his six co-founders began to cast about for an opportunity in digital satellite communications. They determined that the transportation industry offered the best commercial potential, and so spent the next three years developing a system that would enable trucking firms to closely track their drivers’ progress and drivers and dispatchers to send messages to one other.

“Everyone was very skeptical that we could have a very small terminal that fits on a truck be low cost, and yet work over satellites designed for very...

Mar 18, 2011

Symantec
Mountain View, CA 94043

Highlights: 17,500 empoyees in more than 40 countries

Symantec, an outstanding example of the values of the SBIR program, was inducted into SBA’s Hall of Fame on February 15, 2011. It was the first recipient of a grant via the SBIR program in 1982, established at the time by Roland Tibbett.  This grant was critical for Gary Hendrix to establish Symantec.

The year was 1979, in the pilot program’s second solicitation for proposals, NSF funded a Phase I research proposal from Machine Intelligence Corporation of Cupertino, CA for $25,000 to research a radical concept –sort words alphabetically on an IBM 386.  At that time, this was feasible only on a Cray super computer!  While conventional wisdom doubted the idea’s feasibility, the proposal was funded as it held enormous potential.  Promising Phase I...

Mar 15, 2011

Martek Biosciences
Columbia, MD 21045

Highlights: 525 employees, product present in 99% of infant formulas, $300 million revenue

Life’s DHA and life’s ARA - “We don’t cure cancer. But we’ve impacted probably more people than any biotechnology company ever.” Peter Buzzy, the chief financial officer of Martek Biosciences, makes a bold statement.

Do the data bear him out? They do indeed. Put simply, 99% of infant formulas contain Martek’s patented blends of nutrients and additives, known as life’s DHA and life’s ARA. “We’ve been in 50 million kids,” Buzzy declares. “If you go to any shopping mall in the U.S. and look at a child under the age of five, chances are the molecules we’ve made in our fermentation factories are in the brands” he eats. The same is true for 40% of infants overseas. Martek molecules also make their way into 100 food products you’d see in a grocery store, and the company is developing...