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Phenomenal Women Series: SBIR/STTR Trailblazers

March 26 @ 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm EDT

In honor of Women’s History Month, the SBA Michigan, Illinois and Wisconsin District Offices are hosting a webinar highlighting women entrepreneurs in the technology fields who have successfully applied for and received grant funding to commercialize a product.  This webinar is ideal for technology focused entrepreneurs but is OPEN TO ALL!


“Phenomenal Women: SBIR/STTR Trailblazers” features three women entrepreneurs in the technology fields, each phenomenal in their own right, who were awarded SBIR/STTR grants.  They will discuss how they started their businesses, their failures and successes and their experience with the SBIR/STTR application and awards process.  We are also happy to have as a guest speaker one of the Principal Consultants from the BBCetc, Monique Branham, who will provide an overview of the SBIR/STTR grant programs. The BBCetc was formed as Biotechnology Business Consultants in 1990 to assist early-stage life science companies with technology commercialization strategy and implementation. Since then, the company has evolved and grown, now training and consulting with a wide range of clients from individual companies and entrepreneurs to universities, SBDC’s and tech-based economic development organizations across the U.S.


“Phenomenal Women: SBIR/STTR Trailblazers” Panelists:


Marianna Kerppola is the Founder and CEO of Poisera Inc. dba Moment for Parents.  Inspired by her turbulent transition into motherhood, Marianna Kerppola launched Moment for Parents to help moms cultivate and sustain resilience throughout their pregnancy and parenting journey. She’s worked in HealthTech for the past 10 years, before which she worked in corporate finance at Nationwide Insurance and sales at Google. She earned her BA from the University of Chicago, and MBA and Master’s in Science from the University of Michigan. She serves as Principal Investigator for two Phase I SBIR awards from the NIH, totaling $1.2M in grant funding for Poisera Inc.


Dr. Mechie Nkengla, an expert in the data and AI landscape, is the Founder and Chief AI and Data Strategist at Data Products LLC, a data & AI consultancy. A Ph.D. Mathematician, she has extensive experience partnering with industry, academia, and government as a strategic advisor to Executive Leadership teams, building strategic roadmaps and tactical plans to ensure optimal use of technology investments. Formerly a director at EY Analytics Center of Excellence, she is a highly experienced data executive and the holder of multiple patents. Dr. Nkengla is widely respected as a thought leader in the realms of data strategy, AI, machine learning, data literacy, and governance whose team has successfully competed for SBIR grants from the US Dept. of Energy. She enjoys hiking, dancing, and eating seafood, not necessarily in that order.


Dr. Diane R. Demers is the Founder & CEO of Xantho Technologies, LLC. She has extensive experience with U.S. Department of Energy (DoE), Office of Fusion Energy Sciences funded research having received multiple grants, and considerable familiarity with SBIR proposals and grants. She is an internationally recognized expert of ion beam diagnostics used for the study of magnetically confined fusion plasmas; and leads experimental-research collaborations with the Madison Symmetric Torus at the University of Wisconsin, as well as Wendelstein 7-X at the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics in Germany. She is a U.S. Burning Plasma Organization Council Member; served three years as a member of the DoE Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee (FESAC); and is a four time recipient of a WI Small Business Innovation Award for Outstanding Achievement. She received her Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering, with an emphasis in experimental plasma science, from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). During a career spanning the academic, large-corporate, and small business sectors, she has worked within energy, space, and defense industries. In addition to Xantho, she is an Honorary Associate in the Physics Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and has held positions as a Research Assistant Professor at RPI, and a scientist at TRW Space and Defense Sector.



Register now so you can learn about the SBIR/STTR grant programs and its application process.  

Don’t Miss It!!  Registration is required! 


Register Here




Sponsored By: Michigan SBASBA logo

SBA services including funding programs, counseling, federal contracting certifications, and disaster recovery. We can also connect you to our partner organizations, lenders, and other community groups that help small businesses succeed.





Training Provided By: Michigan’s SBIR/STTR Assistance Program
The Michigan SBIR/STTR Assistance Program provides SBIR/STTR training and proposal development services to technology companies with costs covered in whole or in part by the state. The program is funded by the Michigan Strategic Fund (MSF), administered by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and managed by BBC Entrepreneurial Training & Consulting.


Do you know about Michigan’s SBIR/STTR Assistance Program?  The Michigan SBIR/STTR Assistance Program provides SBIR/STTR training and proposal development services to technology companies with most costs covered by a state grant. The program is managed by BBCetc.


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Funds for this initiative were provided by the 21st Century Jobs Fund, a MSF program designed to accelerate the growth and diversification of Michigan’s economy.




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