WEDA Success Stories
WEDA Success Stories
Category: 2016 Success Stories
Have you ever heard the phrase, “you’ve got your head in the clouds?” If yes, perhaps someone thought you had unrealistic expectations or implied you were day dreaming, but that is not always the case. A team of researchers at Alpenglow Instruments LLC in Laramie knows that having your head in the clouds means you are working on a Phase I Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) project.
Alpenglow Instruments was founded in 2013 by Dr. Zhien Wang, Mr. Nick Mahon and Mr. Perry Wechsler as a spinoff from the Department of Atmospheric Science at the University of Wyoming and has offices in the Wyoming Technology Business Center in Laramie. The intent of the company is to provide high quality in-situ and remote sensing instrumentation and facilities to the scientific, government and commercial sectors.
“Our initial product is the ALP-AECL355 Elastic Cloud Lidar, which is a cloud physics instrument that is presently operating an several research aircraft,” stated Perry Wechsler, the Chief Executive Officer at Alpenglow.
When the team at Alpenglow was looking to expand their product base, they looked to the federal SBIR program for funding opportunities. The federal Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) program encourages U.S. small businesses to engage in federal research and development projects. Through competitive contracts and grants, the program helps businesses explore technological solutions to pressing national concerns with the end goal of commercialization.
The team at Alpenglow Instruments with assistance from Kelly Haigler Cornish, Program Manager for the Wyoming SBIR/STTR Initiative, a service of the Wyoming SBDC Network, received a $5,000 Phase 0 contract to assist them with their Phase I proposal to the Department of Energy (DOE). DOE’s funding announcement identified “accurate measurements of liquid water content and/or ice water content” as a “high added value” topic, particularly if this measurement could be deployed on a small, unmanned airborne platform.
Specifically, the Alpenglow Phase I research project tests the feasibility of producing a low power, light weight instrument to simultaneously measure water vapor, liquid water and ice water content in the atmosphere. According to Wechsler, “The simultaneous measurement of all three phases of water is one of those 'holy grail' measurements in the atmospheric science community.” This $224,000 DOE project is well underway, and the company was just awarded a Phase 00 to assist them with their Phase II grant application, which if funded, will result in a working prototype.
The Wyoming SBIR/STTR Initiative works closely with the business coaches in the Wyoming Technology Business Center to provide business assistance to incubator clients seeking SBIR funding. As with all success stories, work with businesses such as Alpenglow is a team effort among Wyoming’s Business Resource Network.