SGNT, a University of Arizona Center for Innovation (UACI) startup, has received a $749,000 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant through the National Science Foundation (NSF). NSF’s vital support of basic research enables people to create knowledge that transforms the future. SGNT INC, founded by CEO Emil Tremblay and Chief Operational Officer Tommy Rompel, is dedicated to significantly reducing the financial loss caused by counterfeiting and tampering by integrating their innovative technology into container security products and packaging.
Having completed Phase I of the SBIR process, SGNT (pronounces sig-net) applied for Phase II and won. SGNT represents exactly what The National Science Foundation (NSF) promotes which is the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare of this nation. At the National Science Foundation (NSF), Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) is an approximately $180 million program that catalyzes the commercialization of transformational technological innovations via research and development (R&D) grants to small businesses and startups. NSF SBIR/STTR funds innovative R&D to overcome technical barriers to private sector commercialization.
The grant program is crucial to the success of many startups, with most Phase I awards each year going to first-time SBIR/STTR applicants. In addition to R&D funding, the program provides training in key business areas, commercialization assistance, and interaction with other small, innovative companies.
This is a big success not only for the startup, but for the Arizona entrepreneurial ecosystem. When Arizona-based startups win such awards, it is a signal to government agencies that the region is equipped to support the commercialization of novel technologies. SGNT’s invention is fundamental to ensuring the authenticity of products. For example, this technology eliminates the uncertainty that comes with shipping medication. Through the transit process, people can potentially steal medication and replace it with fake substances. SGNT’s technology tracks packages and checks to ensure the original content sent is within the package.
“The whole SGNT team is in awe of the support and help provided to us from so many organizations and individuals: UACI, Tucson’s business community, and the NSF. We’re trying to solve a trillion-dollar product counterfeiting problem and we just can’t do that alone. Without the NSF we simply wouldn’t exist; very few investors are willing to fund early scale high-tech development, but the NSF SBIR Program, America’s Seed Fund, allow companies like ours to bring disruptive new ideas to market,” shared Emil Tremblay, CEO of SGNT.
SGNT has utilized many resources within the Tucson entrepreneurial ecosystem. Through UACI, SGNT has utilized the people, programming and places needed to scale their business. They work side by side with other technology entrepreneurs in a fast-moving, collaborative and creative environment along a 27-point roadmap developed to guide startups along their path to success.
“This extraordinary win provides valuable resources to propel SGNT to the next stage in development, it also increases credibility for the company to secure even more funding. Receiving an SBIR/STTR grant is an endorsement from the federal government confirming that the technology being developed is of great value and will ultimately contribute to the betterment of society,” shared Eric Smith, executive director of UACI.
About the UA Center for Innovation
The University of Arizona Center for Innovation (UACI) is a startup incubator network with outposts across the Southern Arizona region and a mission to grow scalable science and technology startup ventures that fuel the Arizona economy. For nearly two decades, the program has directly served over 140 companies and impacted thousands of entrepreneurs. This is done through providing access to people, programming and places that help entrepreneurs take their companies from idea to market. Startups go through a structured program that takes them through a continuum of education provided by mentors, advisors and community collaborators. UACI also provides access to service providers, industry cluster groups, interns and connections to potential customers and strategic partners. Entrepreneurs utilize various physical spaces that include offices, wet and dry labs, meeting rooms, a prototyping center, collaboration areas and the infrastructure to support these spaces. The UACI is part of Tech Parks Arizona, which brings together university, industry and community, creating “interactive ground” to advance technology innovation.
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