The Maryland Technology Development Corporation (TEDCO) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) announced today that five companies were recently awarded a total of $560,000 through the NIST Science and Technology Entrepreneurship Program (N-STEP) grants for a total of six companies to date. Each company was awarded $112,000 to develop their NIST licensed technology for commercial market applications and to grow their companies.

“The N-STEP enables NIST technology to be commercialized through company formation and growth by NIST researchers becoming entrepreneurs. A significant aspect of the N-STEP is that it provides business mentoring and support,” said John Wasilisin, president and chief operating officer of TEDCO.  “The grant supports commercialization of innovative technologies from NIST and helps build sustainable companies that will create well paying, high-tech jobs.”

“We designed the program to give these new entrepreneurs a step up by offering not only funding, but mentoring and coaching to enhance their chances of success,” said Willie E. May, Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and NIST director. “This effort directly relates to NIST’s mission to promote U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness. N-STEP uses NIST technology, talent and resources to spawn successful technology-based businesses.”

N-STEP, launched in November of 2015 as a collaborative effort between TEDCO and NIST, is focused on the commercialization of research that has been performed by NIST researchers who may be interested in forming companies to independently pursue technologies that can be commercialized as products or services to benefit the public. The program makes grants to these companies to move technologies further along the commercialization pathway, increase the company’s value, and lead to follow-on investment and job creation.

The five most recent awardees are:

  • Energy Storage and Retention Solutions Holdings, LLC of Potomac, Md. provides services, software, and instrumentation that enable faster, more accurate, and more cost-effective identification and characterization of improvised/homemade explosives (HME) in the investigation of criminal and terrorist activities. The company is transferring NIST’s laser-driven thermal reactor (LDTR) forensic analysis technology, methodology, and thermal-signature reference data for HME detection to the forensic community. The market for these products and services includes federal and state law enforcement, counterterrorism organizations, and the forensics research community.
  • Platon Science and Technologies, LLC will provide exceptional products for the headspace detection of vapors at trace levels for multiple sectors, including but not limited to food sciences, forensics, and environmental monitoring. With technologies licensed from NIST, pre-concentration of vapors can be achieved without the need for electrical power or moving parts. Wineries will be the initial market with over 8,000 located in the U.S. Wineries will be able to accurately measure and improve a wine’s taste profile. Platon will be located in San Luis Obispo, Calif.
  • zeroK Nanotech Corporation located in Gaithersburg, Md. is developing and bringing to market an ion source technology that will provide order-of-magnitude improvements in both the precision and speed of focused ion beam (FIB) tools. zeroK’s “low temperature ion source” (LoTIS) technology will benefit end-users in the semiconductor electronics, materials research, and nanotechnology sectors.
  • McJimpsey Biotechnologies, Inc. of Macomb, Ill. will focus on the design, development, validation, and manufacturing of diagnostic tests that aid in the early-stage diagnosis and detection of cancer. The primary focus of McJimpsey Biotechnologies, Inc. is the commercialization of a new test for the early detection of prostate cancer (PCa). This test will increase the specificity of the prevailing assays currently in use.
  • N5 Sensors, Inc. is addressing future energy security and greenhouse gas emission reduction goals. Although great progress has been made, energy-efficiency ventilation control systems still rely on old sensor technologies. This often leads to either under or over-ventilation causing energy loss or poor indoor air quality. N5 Sensors is developing a compact indoor air quality detection node capable of real-time measurement of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and volatile organic compounds in addition to temperature, humidity, and particulate matter. This node will include communication modules for seamless integration with building control systems and remote devices (tablets, and phones) for both commercial and residential/home use. N5 Sensors, Inc. is located in Rockville, Md.

N-STEP program general guidelines and Request-for-Applications (RFA) can be found on the TEDCO webpage at NIST researchers interested in applying for the fund may contact Ronald Kaese, Program Manager, by phone at 410-715-4170 or by email at


TEDCO, the Maryland Technology Development Corporation, enhances economic empowerment growth through the fostering of an inclusive entrepreneurial innovation ecosystem. TEDCO identifies, invests in, and helps grow technology and life science-based companies in Maryland. Learn more at

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