When a group of Milwaukee engineers realized they could change the way plasma is generated while saving companies millions of dollars, they turned to the Center for Technology Commercialization (CTC) to get their ideas going.
Radom’s road to commercialization began when engineers Jovan Jevtic, Velibar Pikejla and Ashok Menon realized current methods of plasma generation are expensive and inefficient. By substituting nitrogen gas for argon during the process, the team could ensure the plasma-generating devices would run without as much waste.
“We are addressing a market of about 24,000 instruments worldwide that are all founded on the current technology that, in an aggregate sense, ties down about $300 million of working capital that these businesses aren’t able to use because it goes into running the equipment,” Menon said.
Once the three engineers were sure their idea would work, they turned to CTC for help with funding. Radom received a Phase I SBIR grant through the National Science Foundation with the help of CTC.
“Before filing our grant we contacted [CTC Associate Director] David Linz who was really helpful in giving us a lot of the background information we needed to correctly do that filing,” Menon said.
Radom continued to utilize the resources offered by CTC including additional funding, professional partnerships and feedback on business strategies. Some of this funding came directly through CTC’s SBIR Advance program.
“Without the SBIR Advance, we really would not have been able to do what we did in the last six months,” Menon said.
Throughout the process, CTC assisted Radom with their business strategy and targeting a specific market.
“We originally went out into the field thinking we could come up with an instrument addressing the academic market,” Menon said. “It turned out that really wasn’t something they would do.”
After nearly 50 customer interviews, Radom determined their technology would best be suited for use in independent test labs.
“The amount of mentoring we received while developing our business plan and going through the entire program lead us to several pivot points, working in the field and going through one-on-one discussions with the mentors was an incredible value,” Menon said.
As their technology advances closer to commercialization, Radom continues to use CTC’s support.
“We are preparing a grant submission for the Phase II of the NSF,” Menon said. “That grant is for $750,000 and that’s going to help us propel into the next phase.”
The next phase includes a year of product development followed by a year of commercialization efforts. Menon said without CTC and the support of other Wisconsin researchers, their technology would not be where it is today.
“Overall, I thought [working with CTC] was an excellent experience,” Menon said. “It’s incredible how scientifically deep Wisconsin is. It’s not just all beer and cheese. There’s a lot of science going on that people need to appreciate