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  • Accomplishments: Forge Nano’s biggest accomplishment was that they successfully brought a new class of materials technology from concept to market that could improve battery life, durability and performance.  Forge Nano, formerly PneumatiCoat Technologies, grew from being a startup to being a highly functional small business that got its first commercial revenue in 2013, and cleared its first profit in 2015.  Most recently, Volkswagen Group announced an investment of $10 million in Forge Nano, reinforcing the car maker's specialist knowledge in the field of battery research.  Forge Nano is investigating processes for scaling atomic layer deposition (ALD) to create new core-shell materials, especially for battery applications, that could further improve the durability and performance of batteries and other environmentally-friendly products. Improvements in battery life and energy density reduce the cost of current state of the art batteries.
  • Employees: 26
  • Funding: SBIR Phases I $150,000 (2013), SBIR Phase II $1,000,000 (2014 and 2015)).  In 2016 private capital investments began to grow culminating in Volkswagen’s $10 million investment in January 2019.
  • Interviewee: David M. King, PhD, Founder and Director of Forge Nano
  • Location: Louisville, Colorado

1. What made you decide to apply for an SBIR grant?

 I had experience being a subcontractor on SBIR grants while I was in graduate school.  The fact that SBIR offers non-dilutive funding aimed at derisking the technology was incredibly valuable. We didn’t have to give up equity right away.

 

2. How important was the SBIR grant in advancing your technology?

Very important.  It not only allowed us to have funding to de-risk the technology but also it was a nice form of advertisement.  For example, the process of obtaining the Letters of Support for our Phase II grant, and presenting our work at the Annual Merit Review, helped put us in front of many companies that eventually became our customers.

 

3. What was the best thing about your awards?

With the data we collected as part of the SBIR grant, we were able to convince investors and customers that this high-quality technology is scalable and able to be incorporated cost-effectively into everyday products.