CLEU DIAGNOSTICS, LLC awarded Phase I SBIR Grant from NIH

InteliSpark Client, CLEU Diagnostics LLC, has been awarded a phase I small business innovative research (SBIR) grant from the NIH department, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Their project, “Rapid Electrochemical Biosensor for Point-of-Care Diagnosis of Joint Infection”, will focus on an innovative technology approach for improving diagnosis of infection after total joint replacement (TJR). 


Total joint replacement has posed consequences for patients such as infection, along with a high 5-year mortality rate and (>25%), and an immense societal burden. The single most common reason for patients to present to the emergency department after TJR, is due to concern for infection. A delayed diagnosis can prolong morbidity, reduce the chances for successful infection eradication, and sometimes even lead to sepsis. Diagnostic errors and unnecessary overtreatment pose the possibility of even more damage, given the multiple aggressive surgical interventions and long-term, potentially toxic antibiotic treatment required to manage an infected joint replacement, much akin to cancer therapy. Additionally, making a diagnosis of infection remains a challenge for physicians. Clinical suspicion alone is ineffective for identifying the presence of infection, as outward clinical signs, such as erythema or swelling, are non-specific and cannot be differentiated from other forms of inflammation. Currently, there is no practical point-of-care (POC) test available that can allow physicians to quickly and reliably diagnose a joint infection in order to facilitate prompt clinical decisions in real-time. 


CLEU Diagnostics' goal is to develop the first POC test for infection diagnosis based on a novel electrochemical assay that measures the activity of leukocyte esterases (LE) in joint fluid. LE are antimicrobial proteases released by activated neutrophils recruited to sites of infection. The cellular expression of such antimicrobial peptides rises dramatically in response to acute infection; thus, these enzymes serve as ideal biomarkers for joint infection, with nearly optimal diagnostic accuracy. Their approach is driven by their proprietary biosensor technology, which allows for rapid, quantitative detection of LE using low-cost, disposable screen-printed electrodes, similar to glucose meter test strips. CLEU Diagnostics’ novel biosensor will allow physicians in the office or ED to evaluate fluid aspirated from a persistently painful joint replacement with a high diagnostic accuracy in just minutes. Not only will this facilitate prompt intervention for those with an infection, but more commonly it will allow physicians to definitively rule out infection and prevent undue psychological distress, and even hospital observation, for those without a joint infection. 

Shasqi Inc. Awarded NIH Grant

InteliSpark client, Shasqi Inc., has been awarded a grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences division of the NIH for their project, “Material-Guided Delivery and Local Activation of Biorthogonal Prodrugs”. This project focuses on improving systemic administration of small molecule therapeutics to treat diseases, combatting adverse drug events (ADEs).

Systemic administration of drugs to treat disease can be medically ineffective, and even hazardous, because the drugs fail to concentrate, specifically, at the location in the body where intervention is needed. Approximately 1 in 20 hospitalized patients in the U.S. experience ADEs, and over a million are reported every year. This can cause for longer hospital stays, double risk of mortality, and over $100 in economic toll annually. In addition, ADEs have a crippling indirect effect on therapeutic arsenal. Roughly 25% of drug development programs fail before completion of Phase II studies due to problems with clinical safety. Research groups have responded by developing drug delivery systems to optimize the localized and timely delivery of therapeutics, however, the approaches used have major limitations.

Shasqi is developing a modular platform technology for drug-delivery that enables precise spatiotemporal localization of therapeutics and that allows for the modulation of drug release. Relying on proprietary “catch and release” interactions between an implantable gel and initially “silent” prodrugs, the extensible technology is applicable to diverse medical areas and has the potential to accelerate drug discovery.

InteliSpark is hiring Associate Proposal Development Consultants (Ithaca, NY)

Position Overview: InteliSpark is looking for Associate Proposal Development Consultants. This is a great alternative for scientists interested in non‐laboratory careers in science. Associate Proposal Development Consultants work with Senior Team Members conceptualize and develop high-quality scientific research proposals for NIH, NSF, DOD, NASA, DoE, and other Federal funding agencies to support our clients.

Associate Proposal Development Consultants are responsible for the highest quality written scientific research proposals. The work includes conducting literature reviews, developing research strategy recommendations for clients, writing/developing/editing research proposals. Ideal candidates will have scientifically eclectic interests and the ability to quickly pick‐up concepts outside of their immediate field of science. Successful candidates will have the opportunity to grow into the Proposal Development Consultant role that serves as a project lead on proposal projects.

 Qualifications: Applicants must meet the following specifications:

– M.S. or Ph.D. in a STEM field

– Experience with scientific writing

– Outstanding writing skills (with respect to quality and productivity)

– Outstanding time management skills

– Ability to rapidly comprehend new scientific concepts and fields

– Ability to work independently in a dynamic, growing entrepreneurial environment

– Interested in start‐up ecosystems and advancing innovative technologies to commercialization

– Ability to work well independently and in teams

– Excellent organizational and communication skills

Interested Candidates should send a resume and cover letter to Kirk Macolini -at

About InteliSpark

InteliSpark ( is an Ithaca, NY based, hands‐on business development consulting firm specializing in securing non‐dilutive federal R&D funding for start‐ups. We specialize in securing non-dilutive funding for start‐ups through the Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR), Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR), and other government research funding programs. We work with start‐ups, universities, venture capital firms and economic development programs to match small innovative companies and technologies with funding opportunities. Using our proven track record of creating winning SBIR/STTR proposals, we turn those opportunities into realities.

Ecolectro, Inc. Awarded DOE Grant

InteliSpark client, Ecolectro Inc. has been awarded a grant from the Department of Energy (DOE) for their Phase I project, “Ultrastable Phosphonium-Based Alkaline Exchange Membranes for Solar Fuels Generators”.

Current membranes that have been developed are for electrolyzes and fuel cells, but are not optimized for solar fuel generators whereas the requirements are different. Currently, companies working on solar fuel generators are using commercially available proton exchange membranes or alkaline exchange membranes that were developed for fuel cell and electrolyzer operation. Ecolectro plans to use their proprietary chemical building blocks to tailor alkaline exchange membranes for solar fuels generators. The membranes tailored will have the necessary cross-over, conductivity and durability to achieve high-performance in solar fuels generators. The chemistry and membranes developed herein have significant commercial applications in the hydrogen space in both fuel cell and electrolyzer applications. The use of these chemistries will enable the manufacturers of solar fuels generators, fuel cells and electrolyzers to decrease their cost and bring these materials to market.

PK Biosciences Awarded NIH Phase I Grant

InteliSpark client, PK Biosciences Corporation, has been awarded a grant from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) for their project, “Preclinical Evaluation of the Anti-Neuroinflammatory Properties and Pharmacokinetic Profile of a Novel Fyn Kinase Inhibitors”. This Phase I SBIR project will focus on developing a new class of disease-modifying drugs aimed at Parkinson’s disease (PD) treatment.

Current approaches to PD treatment mainly focus on alleviating symptoms, by compensating for neurochemical deficits. However, these treatments often fail to halt the progression of the neurodegenerative process. The lack of neuroprotective drugs for PD is attributed to a limited understanding of the complex mechanisms involved in the degenerative processes of the nigral dopaminergic system. Yet, recent discoveries regarding cell death pathways and oxidative stress signaling have offered some important clues that boost hope about the development of novel mechanism-based neuroprotective strategies for PD.

PK Biosciences has found that oxidative stress triggers the mitochondrially mediated caspase cascade and Fyn kinase activation to induce neuronal cell death, cell culture, and animal models of neurodegeneration. Furthermore, Fyn knockout mice were found resistant to MPTP-induced behavioral deficits, neurochemical depletion, and nigral dopaminergic neuronal damage. Additionally, PK Biosciences observed Fyn kinase is rapidly activated and mediates LPS= and SynPFF-induced increases in nitrite and proinflammatory cytokine production in cell culture and animal models of neuroinflammation. Together, these mechanistic studies demonstrate that Fyn is an essential upstream proapoptotic kinase involved in neuroinflammation, and as such, it could prove to be a promising therapeutic target for PD. With the grant assistance from the NINDS, PK Biosciences will continue work on their proof-of-concept study, to validate tri-heterocyclic small-molecule inhibitors of Fyn kinase as novel anti-neuroinflammatory agents for treating neurodegenerative disorders.

Lucidicor, Inc. wins Phase I NIH Grant

InteliSpark client, Lucidicor Inc. has been awarded a Phase I SBIR from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences for their project, “Novel Fluorescent Biosensors to Continuously Visualize Real-Time Protein Phosphorylation in Live Cells”. This project will focus on developing technology that would enable detection of phosphorylation continuously in real time within living cells and able to adapt to multiple kinases.

Protein phosphorylation is essential in orchestrating the myriad aspects of cell function. Kinases, which phosphorylate proteins, are encoded by 2% of the human genome and are critically involved in diverse conditions such as cancer, metabolic disorders and neurodegeneration. Current tools for detecting cellular phosphorylation are limited because most tools examine this process at a single time point or in cell lysates, or are restricted to single kinases. Lucidicor Inc. has developed a technology, PhosFluorTM, an extensively engineered protein that fluoresces robustly only when phosphorylated. Currently, this is the only fluorescent protein to date with this property. By engineering substrate recognition sites into PhosFluor, this molecule can be converted into a biosensor for the activity of virtually any protein kinase. Using PhosFluor, Lucidicor has already created and validated biosensors for Protein Kinase A (PKA), cyclin- dependent kinases (cdks), and Src-family kinases. A 700% change in the fluorescence of PhoFluor biosensors is observed when cells are stimulated physiologically. By contrast, dual-color fluorescent protein biosensors that utilize FRET (Förster Resonance Energy Transfer) exhibit a small 25-30% change in overall fluorescence during a physiological stimulus. The higher responsiveness of PhosFluor greatly optimizes fluorescence detection and signal/noise, which are essential for consistently accurate measurements within cells.

Lucidicor Inc. envisions that the utility of their PhosFluor will be greatly enhanced if it is integrated with other methods. Specifically, integration of PhosFluor with advanced microscopy would allow precise visualization and measurement of the spatio-temporal action of kinases. Integration with viral transduction would permit analyses of kinase activity in diverse cell types, which in turn has potential in diagnostics or drug discovery. In Phase II, they plan to extend the utility of our biosensors to neurons, primary cells, and human specimens. PhosFluor's low background and high signal/noise lends itself to high throughput applications, such as the capture of information in microscopy-based high content screening. Collectively, this will enable creation of a kinome toolbox that can be used by basic and clinical investigators, and the pharmaceutical industry.

Active Energy Systems awarded NSF Grant

InteliSpark client, Active Energy Systems, Inc. has been awarded a Phase I SBIR grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for their project, “Grid-scale electricity storage from waste heat”. This project will focus on significantly lowering the cost and expanding the number of addressable markets for ice thermal energy storage.

Cost effectively storing energy is imperative to a sustainable future. Storage can provide reliable access to power from intermittent renewable sources, increase the resiliency of grid to weather events or terrorist attacks, and increase the utilization efficiency of existing assets, deferring costly upgrades. Today, ice thermal storage systems help building owners shift cooling loads from costly peak hours to when electricity is less expensive. Unfortunately, the upfront cost of these systems, driven by the large cost of the cooling coil used to generate ice, prevents adoption from many users and has unduly restricted the number of addressable markets for ice thermal storage. Elimination of ice buildup on the cooling coil would reduce the size of the coil, and more importantly significantly lower the cost of these systems.

Low-cost ice thermal energy storage could greatly improve the economics for long-duration energy storage technologies such as pumped thermal energy storage. Active Energy Systems will use the grant funding to translate the discovery of surfaces with zero ice adhesion into a cooling coil that can be integrated into a functioning ice thermal energy storage system. They plan to systematically prototype and refine various plate and tube-based cooling coil geometries, measuring the freezing and melting heat transfer efficiencies. They will also test different formulations of the surface coating. The most promising candidate geometries will be charged and discharged over multiple cycles as a part of an ice thermal energy storage system. The results from cycling will be compared to conventional ice-on-coil technology using metrics such as energy density and heat transfer efficiency. An ice shedding cooling coil, at less than a third of the size of an ice-on-coil system, is expected to deliver improved cooling performance. Demonstration of an ice shedding cooling coil in a functioning ice thermal energy storage system will prove the technology’s readiness to scale.

Mosaic Microsystems wins NSF Grant

InteliSpark client Mosaic Microsystems LLC, has been awarded a Phase I SBIR grant from the NSF for their project, “Manufacturable Implementation of Thin Glass for Next Generation Electronics Packaging”. The focus of this project will be on enabling processing thin glass substrates for next generation communications and packaging needs that will allow for faster communications with improved power efficiency.

There is an ever-expanding need for data, due to technologies such as mobile communications, cloud computing, the Internet of Things (IoT), and the shift of communication to higher frequencies. As the frequency increases, traditional material choices, such as silicon, can experience very high losses and therefore there is increasing interest in using insulating materials, such as glass, to improve power efficiency. Additionally, as device size is also important, ability to process thin materials is critical. Therefore, Mosaic Microsystems has set out to enable cost-effective processing of thin glass substrates and enable next generation communication initiatives impacting commercial, military and industrial markets.

There has been great interest in using glass for next generation RF and packing solutions for many years due to its advantageous material properties, and scalability. There has been a lot of progress in establishing processes to form thin glass and make precision through glass via (TGV), as well as demonstrated advantaged functional performance in a lab environment. However, there has been a challenge to establish the ability to scale to high volume for thin glass solutions due to gaps in the supply chain. Mosaic Microsystems will provide effort to establish a process that enables a carrier solution using a silicon carrier that will allow processing of glass in existing infrastructure making thing glass solutions available to the current well established and capable supply chain.

Exotanium Inc. Awarded Phase I SBIR Grant from NSF

InteliSpark client Exotanium, Inc. has been awarded a Phase I SBIR grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for their project, “X-Containers: Fast, Secure Containers for a Cloud-Native World”. Their project will focus on improving security of cloud computing while still maintaining performance and cost efficiency.

Cloud computing has proven to be a disruptive technology in the Information Technology (IT) sector. Furthermore, the application container market is a rapidly growing segment of this sector. Containers provide a simpler and more efficient apparatus to host applications in the cloud, however, they do pose problems such as weak security isolation, low kernel compatibility, and poor kernel customization. The issue of security is most prominent because one infected kernel can affect a multitude of containers. Currently, all organizations that have adopted container applications have been required to independently ensure their own security. One study found that a majority ran containers on top of virtual machines for security isolation, which then sacrifices performance and cost efficiency of the containers.

Exotanium proposes to provide a container architecture that supports greater security without sacrificing performance and cost efficiency. They plan to improve usability, security, and efficiency of a novel software application container architecture so that it can be easily deployed and evaluated by customers. The focus on the Phase I project will be to address limitations and challenges through five major objectives support Docker and Kubernetes ecosystem compatibility; improve automatic binary optimization coverage; re-design the platform to avoid open-source license violations; further improve security; develop an automatic installation tool and a product demonstration.

Mednet wins NSF Grant

InteliSpark client Mednet, Inc. has been awarded a grant from the NSF for their Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) Phase I project, “An Online Peer-to-Peer Resource for Oncologists to Improve Clinical Trial Knowledge and Enrollment”. Mednet will focus on putting forth a solution to the problem of clinical trial enrollment. They will do so by improving awareness of clinical trials with physicians through technology that matches physician questions to relevant clinical trials via an online interactive social decision platform.

Currently, patient enrollment is significantly weak in the development pipeline and a pain point for organizations that sponsor clinical trials. More than two-thirds of trials sites reportedly fail to meet enrollment goals for a given trial, and up to 45% of study delays are due to enrollment difficulties. Lost revenues can be accounted for nearly $1 million per day. Clinical trials are a critical link between scientific discovery and changes in clinical practice that advance prevention, treatments, and cures for diseases and disability. Awareness of trials among physicians is key to increasing clinical trial enrollment, which furthermore is essential in advancing health care practice as well as patient health and quality of life.

Mednet plans to address this problem by use of their innovation, combining a credible online social platform with powerful natural language processing technology and machine learning techniques to deliver customized clinical trial information to physicians in their decision-making process. With the grant money from the NSF, Mednet will be able to build a prototype to match clinical trial information to relevant physician questions, and conduct a pilot assessment of clinical trial knowledge pre- and post-use. They will create natural language processing (NLP) technology to match clinical questions to related clinical trials so that physicians learn about clinical trials at the time they are seeking information on how to best treat their patients. The success of their Phase I project will result in a user-friendly platform that matches clinical questions to oncologists and relevant, open clinical trials, and will establish the technical and commercial feasibility of their concept.