The Neutrino Donut will be offering consulting services on the SBIR process to applicants to the BioMedSA BioFest.
BioFest Invest is an annual spring event that brings together potential investors from across the nation and Texas bioscience companies seeking investment funding, while sharing best practices, connections, and valuable advice. The day-long event includes relevant speakers and panelists on valuable topics relevant to bioscience companies. Organizations that provide support to bioscience entrepreneurs will also be on-site to provide information.
After a rigorous screening process, invited companies are able to present their pitch decks during the event. Investors are able to view company pitches and connect with company representatives live or virtually after the event. Judges will evaluate the pitches to award a cash prize of $10,000.
Upon acceptance of application, the following opportunities will be available for all participating startups: – A pitch practice session and content review through the UTSA Technology Commercialization Center. – A one-hour free consulting review session with The Neutrino Donut, LLC to review the SBIR market and potential opportunities.
Matt Genovese is the founder and CEO of Planorama Design, bringing over 25 years of career experience in high-tech, spanning semiconductors, hardware, IoT, IT, and software product development. He has a strong track record of planning, launching, and shipping products that work. Matt’s company, Planorama Design, is a software user experience design professional services company, designing complex, technical software that is simple and intuitive to use. Staffed with seasoned engineers and user experience (UX) designers, the company is headquartered in Austin, Texas, USA.
Matt earned a B.S. in Computer Engineering from the Rochester Institute of Technology and an M.S. in Electrical Engineering from The University of Texas at Austin. He began his career at Motorola-Freescale Semiconductor in product & test engineering and moved into design verification of RISC processors and SoCs. Matt has also held product leadership roles for complex and technical software development. As a result of his deep professional experience, Matt strives to “get it right the first time” starting with the software application’s user experience design, down to the hardware at the bottom of the stack. Planorama helps drive product development processes that create products that work out of the gate.
WHAT IS THE BACKSTORY OF PLANORAMA DESIGN?
A quote from Susan Dray are words to live by in the world of product design. She said: “If the user can’t use it, it doesn’t work.”
I’ve spent my entire career making sure products work, both in the semiconductor industry and in pure software productization. During the first half of my career, as a product & test engineer, then as a functional verification engineer, I had to ensure products worked out of the gate. After all, when mask sets cost millions, verifying functionality pre-silicon is a business imperative.
That “get it right the first time” mentality carried into the second half of my career in pure software companies – always focused on complex, technical software and SaaS products. Even though software is cheaper to deploy than hardware, executing any kind of redo, especially “down to the chassis”, is still very costly. My experience showed that upfront planning and deep thinking through key requirements and features with an eye for future saved money that would otherwise be spent later on costly redos.
I also noticed how modern software is developed very differently from hardware. Software Agile development processes, user experience (UX) design, and detailed requirements documentation enable rapid, iterative, and efficient software development. These software development concepts have been traditionally absent in the semiconductor industry, which is accustomed to longer, non-iterative hardware design cycles.
Semiconductor companies are increasingly creating and delivering both chips and software as part of their overall solution. To remain competitive, customer-facing software should meet the same high standards as state-of-the-art semiconductors. Disciplined UX design gives us world-class software that is easy to use for semiconductor customers. Again, ultimately, “if the user can’t use it, it doesn’t work.”
Today I see some in the semiconductor industry are catching on. Intel’s own CTO Greg Lavender recently echoed this same sentiment: “You’re great engineers. You put together this great piece of whatever. Now show me how it’s going to be used from the end-user perspective. Because if we can’t do that, no one’s going to buy the stuff anyway.” His words resonate! They speak to Planorama’s backstory and the overarching mission of my career – it’s what we do here at Planorama Design.
WHAT PROBLEMS ARE YOU SOLVING?
We tackle the three critical challenges encountered when deploying software products: quality of the user experience, time-to-market, and budget. These problems are just as relevant to semiconductor and hardware companies as they are in pure software businesses.
What does a “user experience quality” problem look like? Like functional bugs in your silicon, a confusing user interface prevents your customers from achieving their objectives, impacting the perceived quality of your products. UX designers may call it a “usability” problem, but at the end of the day, it’s another quality problem that can degrade the value of your entire solution at best or kill your ability to capture design-ins at worst. Your chips and edge hardware may be superior, but if customers cannot easily build their solution, their time-to-ramp to production delays and the overall success of you and your customer is diminished. You built great hardware; now, design the software that will unlock the value of your technical excellence.
Secondly, we tackle the “time-to-market” problem by ensuring your software developers have all they need to code quickly and accurately. Software development teams are handed the baton last, before the product goes out the door. Stakes (and attention) are high and as I’ve witnessed, often they have not received the requirements needed to execute efficiently. We’re talking about high-fidelity visual specifications and the business rules, written in well-organized, thorough, “dev-ready” internal product documentation. When developers can develop and not have to design screens or wait for requirements, products simply get out the door faster.
Third, but not least, deploying software is not an inexpensive proposition. Development teams are large and costly, so the longer a project takes and the more cycles it has to go through, the more likely a budget will be blown. Excellent user experience design avoids the inefficiencies that will balloon your dev costs by minimizing the duration of the software project. Finally, since usable software is intrinsically intuitive, there’s less need for customer support and training, which again reduces long-term costs. UX design is more of a way to reduce costs than spend money!
WHAT MAKES PLANORAMA’S SERVICES UNIQUE?
For one thing, it’s the sheer span and the depth of our capabilities. Our team has worked across many verticals to solve all types of problems for our clients. It turns out the solutions to a vast number of problems have already been solved in other spaces, and we have designed them. Now combine that with our deep in-house engineering expertise, and we’re able to talk shop with anyone to get the design problem addressed the right way. Planorama not only has senior user experience designers, but also engineers with computer, electrical, and chemical academic backgrounds. You won’t need to explain transistors, logic synthesis, edge networking, or AI to us, so we develop domain knowledge very quickly.
Finally, I would paint ourselves as “no-nonsense.” It’s not our first rodeo, and we’re not trying to win art contests. We have a mentality of rolling up our sleeves and delivering what our clients need to ship. Users need interfaces that make sense, developers need solid and complete designs with requirements documentation to code efficiently, and QA needs to validate functionality against a well-organized spec. That’s what we do so our clients can accelerate to market with a product that delights their customers.
I’ll summarize what I have observed in the pure software space which I believe is relevant to semiconductor companies today:
Vertical Integration: Hardware companies are building both the components and the integrated solution, which now includes customer-facing software. For their customers to be successful, the complete solution must be best-in-class quality, including the software that ties it all together. Just look at what NVIDIA is doing with their enterprise software suite that supports cloud customers who create AI applications, leveraging off the shelf pre-trained AI libraries to support quick build, then deployment, and finally end-to-end management. Their software ties together the entire solution into an extremely compelling cloud and edge offering. I’d want to use it!
Digital Transformation: Existing legacy software needs to meet the expectations of changing customer requirements. For instance, migration from on-premises solutions to the cloud can launch a company ahead of its competition, but the effort also requires new expectations, know-how, and skill sets in both software design and development.
Customer-enablement: Businesses that purchase and integrate hardware to build solutions require upfront time to do so. It’s to the advantage of any hardware vendor to enable their customers’ acceleration to market. Enabling your customers with easy-to-use software to build their own solutions more easily and quickly means they ramp to production and generate revenue sooner.
Purpose-built Products: We’re seeing specialized solutions that meet business requirements for specific types of customers. In contrast to general-purpose products, these require a solid understanding of the target customers, their users, and use cases. The entire solution – including the critical software that ties it all together, must be a complete match for their needs.
“New EDA”: A new wave of EDA tooling is emerging. These new EDA solutions largely aim to address the traditional barriers that made custom ASIC design infeasible for many enterprises. Companies who cannot afford large IC design departments and budgets can now have another option beyond expensive FPGA implementations. With intuitive user interfaces crafted to reduce the need for training and support, they are much simpler than traditional EDA solutions while effective for the companies who aren’t pushing the bleeding edge of performance.
I expect to see more semiconductor and hardware companies taking a serious look at integrating user experience design into their software processes. UX design is already a critical part of pure software productization, not only to create usable products, but getting them to market faster while spending less. As customers increasingly expect the same world-class user experience from their integrated hardware solutions as they do from their software solutions, companies must recognize the importance of strategically investing in user experience design. Companies that do will be the winners in the long run, chosen by customers who prefer complete solutions that “work”.
The Neutrino Donut has been listed as a service provider for SBIR consulting under the Department of Energy website. Other Syndicate members, Rare Innovation and Venture Craft, have been noted as well.
The Neutrino Donut continues to expand our customer base. We have entered into agreements with multiple states and their respective agencies, universities, and economic development groups to provide commercialization and grant services to startups. Recent trips to Pennsylvania, Texas, and Nebraska and other locations have opened new opportunities for the company. We have ongoing relationships with other states and organizations.
The Neutrino Donut is reviewing technologies for the Japanese university. These technologies are groundbreaking ideas from international organizations. Our goal is to understand markets for these technologies outside of Japan and potential US and EU market entry.
The Syndicate is an affiliated group of consultants with extensive work in the area of technology commercialization, grant programs, and development services. The Neutrino Donut works with these organizations to provide extended services and support to our clients.
Members of The Syndicate have demonstrated industry experience in the commercialization of science technologies, have a deep understanding of product development, and have successfully developed a business in this space. Within this group, we have expertise with multiple technology areas, government agency grant programs, and academic processes and programs.
Project Leader, The Syndicate
Earle Hager is the Managing Partner of The Neutrino Donut, a consultancy focused on the management and commercialization of science. He has managed strategic planning for company growth, customer management, and all aspects of business development processes. His specific target areas include biotech, healthcare, consumer goods, chemistry, IT, materials science, environmental, product innovation, strategic planning, and development of business development strategies.
As part of this consultancy, he has completed over 300 technology assessments and over 200 business development projects in innovative technologies over the last ten for domestic and international clients. Mr. Hager has also been part of many SBIR commercialization projects, writing multiple commercialization sections and consulting on many more. These projects include grant reviews for DoE, DoD, NIH, NSF, and other agencies as well as US and foreign universities, marketing and business development for multiple universities, SBIR grant development, and running multiple startups.
He is also a member of two grant review panels with NIH and DoD. His international experience includes projects in Hungary, Japan, India, Korea, Mexico, Portugal, Chile, Ukraine, Russia, Viet Nam, Qatar, and other countries. The Donut in the name of the company stands for the Direct Observation of the Neutrino Tau.
B.S., Economics, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania
Tim Raines specializes in Business Development, Commercialization, Marketing and Sales for complex science and technology ideas and innovations. He is experienced in domestic and international commercialization, with international work predominantly for foreign technologies seeking to commercialize within the US. He has worked with technologies in the batteries, engines, business and commercialization plans, IP protection, grant writing, business development, sales, marketing, and branding with emphasis on physical sciences in energy, optics, software, healthcare, and defense. [EC1]
He has a strong grasp of highly complex science and technology concepts with the ability to distill them into concise and executable marketing strategy.
He has worked with projects with the DOE, NIST, NIH, DOD and has provided services in grant support, follow-on bizdev, review panelist for DoD CDMRP (healthcare), and PI for DOE Phase I, Plasma Facing Components. Globally, he serves science and tech innovators, institutions, and policy makers in developing economies, and has experience working with groups in India, Mexico, Hungary, Columbia, Ukraine, Qatar, Korea, and more.
Texas McCombs School of Business, MS, Science and Technology Commercialization
Shaun Sanders is the Managing Partner of VentureCraft, Inc., and a startup veteran with more than 15 years of experience building and growing companies (early stage to Series A) across numerous markets. His consulting practice is largely industry-agnostic as he has provided commercialization and business guidance to clients across multiple sectors, including: energy, agriculture, SaaS, blockchain and fintech, biotech and Medtech, entertainment, and consumer goods. Sanders is a Professor of Law at USC Gould.
Between 2011 and 2013, Sanders worked with multiple Y Combinator portfolio companies, including Reddit, Hipmunk, inDinero, and AirBNB, while developing and managing cross-branded marketing campaigns with Google, Angry Birds, and SXSW. In 2014, Sanders managed the creation of the Angel Syndication Network, one of the largest angel investment syndication groups in the country that tied together resources and members from more than a dozen investment groups. Later, he joined in building out the startup-focused Applied Innovation at the University of California, Irvine. In 2016, Sanders joined HOTB, a software development company with an investment arm that handled more than $6 billion in program assistance on behalf of the U.S. Treasury and more than 14 state agencies. There, Sanders acted as Corporate Counsel, overseeing the company’s RFP program, negotiating terms between startups and investors, and developing strategic operational initiatives. In 2021, Sanders was brought on by the Australian government to assist the surrounding Asia Pacific countries hit hardest by COVID-19 and provide business and legal guidance to startups in Fiji, Samoa, Cambodia, and Myanmar.
At his core, Sanders is an educator with a talent for breaking down complicated ideas and abstract goals into articulable, scalable milestones. To date, he has assisted hundreds of entrepreneurs and startups in growing early-stage ideas into scalable, commercialized successes that have raised hundreds of millions of dollars in capital.
Juris Doctor, Chapman University Dales E. Fowler School of Law
B.S. Business Administration and Human Resource, California State University, Dominguez Hills
California State Bar, licensed but inactive.
Member, The Syndicate
For the past decade, Ben has been working in the entrepreneurship and commercialization space to cultivate his passion for new technology development. His experience includes managing licensing & campus technology transfer at a Tier 1 research university, instructing as an adjunct professor of entrepreneurship, serving as a grant reviewer, and even being entrepreneur himself by founding two tech companies of his own.
Today, Ben runs Bennovative Consulting whose purpose is to help catalyze early stage technologies from concept to commercialization. Through this work, Ben has worked with many different types of technologies of varying complexity such as new software applications, nuclear fusion, nuclear storage, EVs & their batteries, many environmental materials, renewable energies, medical devices, drug discovery, and agricultural tech. In addition, this work led to collaborative interactions with many agencies and organizations such as the DOE, NIH, USDA, and the CDMRP program.
To date, Ben has reviewed 300+ technologies and counseled 80+ companies. Licensing strategies, business development, product roadmaps, and go-to-market strategies are included in his specialties.
M.S. Civil & Environmental Engineering The University of Alabama
MBA, Manderson Graduate School of Business, The University of Alabama
Chris Coburn specializes in technology commercialization utilizing federal grants. His current work includes DOE grant commercialization planning for several thermodynamic and reactor instrumentation products. His services are customer-centric and fit any high-tech commercialization or product development needs. They include customer identification, market research, business plan development, customer value proposition, supported by decades of experience that The Syndicate provides for any aspect of technology commercialization.
He brings to the table more than thirty years of study and engineering of internal combustion engines and expertise in highly complex assemblies and processes such as transmissions, hydraulics, test methods, high-speed video and instrumentation, and root cause failure analysis. He also has experience in explosive weapons technology development with previous DOD clearance, and bird strike testing on military and civilian aircraft.
Chris’s proven management and current-production skills include business case development, product development and launch, product line management, and financial planning and analysis. His team management skills and methods include team creation, mentoring, empowerment, engagement, development, goal tracking and cross-functional team building.
University of Wisconsin-Madison, MEPP, Master of Engineering in Professional Practice
Old Dominion University, Bachelor’s, Mechanical Engineering
Dr. Emilie Clemmens specialties include grant writing, peer review, biomedical sciences and engineering. She has been working for 25 years in biomedical sciences and engineering, 5+ years in peer review management, and one year as grant writer. She has worked with many commercialization plans, including 13 grants in the first year of business, and managed 40-50 peer review panels as a Scientific Review Officer (grant review management) with CDRMP at DoD. She also serves as an Adjunct Assistant Professor in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Kentucky.
As a grant writer and reviewer, her focus is providing high level services based on her extensive expertise in peer review, grants management, and strong background in the sciences.
Michael Zarrabian is with Concept IP | LLP, The Intellectual Property Law Firm for Innovators. He is a registered patent attorney and hi-tech engineer. He focuses on intellectual property law for hi-tech, manufacturing and business sectors. He works closely with clients on patents, trademarks, copyrights, and counseling for all IP matters.
He works with start-ups to emerging and mid-size companies in manufacturing and business sectors for consumer electronics, apps, software, hardware, cloud, e-commerce, electrical, mechanical, medical, optics, apparel, appliances, etc. He also worked with companies in the tech sector in software, AI, hardware, electronics, manufacturing, emerging companies, start-ups, Internet, e-commerce, and the like.
Bachelor of Science in Electrical/Computer Engineering and Computer Science (minor in Mechanical and Electromechanical Systems) from the University of California, Los Angeles, magna cum laude.
Master of Science, Computer Engineering, University of Southern California
J.D., Loyola Law School
Member of California Bar
Member of United States Patent & Trademark Office Bar
The Neutrino Donut is working with several startups in the development of their commercialization grant process. In the Phase 1 grant program, we are helping them develop their Phase 2 commercialization process. In our work, the commercialization process involves developing a strategy for market entry, identifying customers, and understanding the extent of an engagement.