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February 1, 2016

Small business, big stage: NSF-funded start-ups at CES 2016

NSF provides critical funding for "bleeding edge" technologies, with eye on jobs, boosting U.S. economy

The familiar phrase "wearing your heart on your sleeve" took on a whole new meaning during the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. Wearable health tracking devices broke into full stride and some of them got a head start from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Nearly two dozen NSF-funded small businesses were among the companies giving consumers a sneak peek at pre-market technologies, which go beyond health tech to feature robotics, virtual reality, sensors and more in an area of CES known as Eureka Park. NSF co-founded Eureka Park in 2012 to showcase early stage technology.

"Our program funds small businesses, mainly start-ups that are developing game-changing technologies that have a big commercial upside -- they could add jobs, boost the economy and help maintain the U.S. technological edge worldwide," says Steven Konsek, a program director for NSF's Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. "Nearly all the NSF-funded companies at CES have gone on to raise private capital, in part because of our work with them."

Those companies include femtoScale, a Denver start-up that is developing a portable and eventually wearable sensor to provide real time readings of air quality; San Jose, California-based Stratio, Inc., which has shrunk a spectrometer down to palm size so you can inspect your own food and medicine; Aventusoft, LLC of Boca Raton, Florida, which is developing a wearable heart monitor and electrocardiogram; and Salt Lake City-based Veristride, a company using sensors in insoles to provide real-time biomechanics.

The SBIR program is under the Industrial Innovation and Partnerships division of the NSF Directorate for Engineering.

The research in this episode was supported by the following:

  • NSF award #1330350, Micro-electro-mechanical system (MEMS) Resonant Nanobalance Dew Point Meters

  • NSF award #1534793, Innovative Germanium-based Short Wavelength infrared Image Sensors

  • NSF award #1456401, Multi-dimensional Cardiogram Device for Monitoring of Heart Diseases

  • NSF award #1331108, Real-Time Rehab to Improve Gait Symmetry in Amputees

Miles O'Brien, Science Nation Correspondent and Producer

Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations presented in this material are only those of the presenter grantee/researcher, author, or agency employee; and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.