SF Bay Area Nanotechnology Council


November 14th, 2017: Entrepreneurial Paths – Not Just Nanotech

Entrepreneurial Paths – Not Just Nanotech

Co-sponsors: IEEE Consumer Electronics Society , IEEE Technology and Engineering Management Society

Presentations, Panel Discussion, Q&A
Register: Here

Tuesday, November 14, 2017 – 12:45 PM to 4:45 PM
Cost: $10 – discounts for IEEE Members, Students & Unemployed

Location: Texas Instruments Building E Conference Center
2900 Semiconductor Dr., Santa Clara, CA 95052
See the TI Building location map and directions


12:45               Registration

  1:00               Welcome

                             Glenn Friedman, Chair, SFBA Nanotechnology Council

                             KRS Murthy, Event Chair, ExCom member, SFBA Nanotechnology Council

  1:10               Innovation, Entrepreneurship, Building Successful Companies

                             Dr. Srinivas Rao, President & CEO, Senova Systems;

                             Operating Partner, Phoenix Venture Partners

  1:45               Protecting Your Nanotech

                             Steven A. Swernofsky, Patent Attorney; Managing Director Los Altos Law

  2:20               Break

  2:30               SBIR Funds: A Startup’s Oasis in the Valley of Death

                             Spenser Hamilton, Business Advisor;

                             San Mateo Small Business Development Center

  3:05               Federal SBIRs as Vehicles for Small Businesses

                             Ryszard Pisarski, NASA Ames Research Center

                             Geetha R Dholakia, REI Systems, NASA Ames Research Center

  3:40               Panel Discussion – to include presenters and also:

                             Dr. Radoslav Danilak, CEO of Tachyum

                             Mr. Kameshwar Eranki, Founder & CEO of VajraSoft Inc.

  4:30               Networking: Attendees, Presenters, Panelists

  5:00               End


Abstracts & Biographies:

Innovation, Entrepreneurship, Building Successful Companies

     Dr. Srinivas Rao is an industry leader with a distinguished track record of material science technology development and commercialization. Until recently, he was Vice President of Corporate Technology at Flextronics International, Ltd. (NASDAQ: FLEX), a multi-billion dollar, global provider of vertically integrated advanced design and electronics manufacturing services. Earlier in his career, he was Vice President of Technology at Solectron Corporation, where he was responsible for engineering and product development, helping grow the company from $190 million to $22 billion in revenues and from one site to over 70 sites worldwide. Previously, Dr. Rao was a Senior Scientist at Raychem Corporation and held technology management and research positions at Eastman Kodak Research Laboratories and RCA Laboratories, where he received RCA’s Outstanding Achievement Award. Dr. Rao is a Distinguished Alumnus of Indian Institute of Technology Madras where he earned a B.Tech degree in Metallurgical Engineering, and an MS and PhD in Metallurgy and Materials Science from the Stevens Institute of Technology. He holds numerous patents and is the author of numerous papers and review chapters. He has also held distinguished positions in several technical organizations, including Chair of the Editorial Committee of Surface Mount Technology, Chair of the Electronic Materials Committee at the American Society for Metals, and Chair of the Electronic Manufacturing Services of IEEE’s CPMT. He has also served on the editorial board of the International Society for Hybrid Microelectronics, Future Circuits International, the International Review of Circuit Board Manufacturing Technology, and, in 2005, served on the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Nanotechnology for the State of California.


Protecting Your Nanotech

Nanotechnology is a rapidly growing field where legal protection can be key. In this presentation we will answer important questions like: what is the law that applies to new ideas? Who owns them? What value do they have? What can you do with them? Both startups and established companies have a serious interest in the care and protection of new ideas. How is it done? How do we know when we’ve done something patentable?

     Steven A. Swernofsky is a patent attorney with over 25 years experience obtaining and litigating patents. He focuses on maximizing the value clients obtain for their legal dollars. This includes advising on how to best protect new ideas, growing and managing patent portfolios, advising on litigation, and licensing intellectual property. He is Managing Director at Los Altos Law, which regularly teams with inventors and in-house legal departments, as well as key executives, investors, and other litigation counsel, to protect intellectual property and promote business interests. His patents have been successfully sued on by major companies for millions of dollars.

Mr. Swernofsky earned a BS from MIT, where he studied electrical engineering and computer science, with emphasis on computer networking, security, and artificial intelligence. He worked at MITRE and BBN in those fields before he attended law school at UCLA. His practice has led him to a wide range of high technology fields, including artificial intelligence and machine learning, augmented and virtual reality, bioinformatics and computations chemistry, wired and wireless computer networking, analog and digital circuit design, microprocessor design, semiconductor design and manufacturing, medical devices and instruments, and robotics. He is also enrolled as an arbitrator with FINRA.


SBIR Funds: A Startup’s Oasis in the Valley of Death

Many early-stage companies face a significant funding gap when trying to develop new technology, from the translational research to the proof of concept. This funding gap is sometimes referred to as the “valley of death”, a reflection of the vast number of companies that are unable to raise the needed capital to progress towards commercialization. The suggestion behind the “valley of death” phrase is that companies that should be able to attract investment do not get funded, because the technical risks inherent in technology development are high. Ultimately, the valley of death reflects the perceived imbalance of risk and reward for an investment at this stage as well as the resulting difficulty for a technology company of harder sciences in raising capital during this time. In an effort to bridge the gap, the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program encourages domestic small businesses to engage in Federal Research/Research and Development (R/R&D) that has the potential for commercialization. Through a competitive awards-based program, SBIR enables small businesses to explore their technological potential and provides the incentive to profit from its commercialization. By including qualified small businesses in the nation’s R&D arena, high-tech innovation is stimulated, and the United States gains entrepreneurial spirit as it meets its specific research and development needs. The mission of the SBIR program is to support scientific excellence and technological innovation through the investment of Federal research funds in critical American priorities to build a strong national economy.

     Spenser Hamilton has expertise in areas including valuation, business strategy, operations efficiency, market research and new product development. He has advised or invested in companies with technologies ranging from mobile devices, clean tech, healthcare IT, and medical devices. Spencer’s prior work experience includes clinical settings, investment funds, and Corporate America. He holds a BA and an MBA from the University of Southern California and Johns Hopkins University, respectively. In addition, he has lectured on entrepreneurship, innovation, and R&D funding at forums and colleges in US and abroad.



The Federal SBIR/STTR program is called the nation’s seed fund for entrepreneurs. The talk will focus on NASA’s contribution to the SBIR/STTR program. This will include the details of how the program is implemented at NASA, a description of how the technologies flow into NASA’s programs and will highlight some success stories from the program.

     Dr. Ryszard Pisarski is the SBIR/STTR Technology Infusion Manager for the NASA SBIR/STTR program management office. In this capacity he co-ordinates with all ten NASA centers and facilitates activities that lead to infusion of SBIR/STTR technology into NASA programs. Dr. Pisarski obtained his Ph.D. in Astrophysics from Columbia University in 1984 and his MBA from the Stern School of Business at NYU in 1999. He worked at NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center developing flight and data analysis software for the Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) and was a project manager for a joint US/German/UK astrophysics mission – ROSAT.  Dr. Pisarski was a branch head for the Astrophysical Data Facility at GSFC, responsible for managing a group of scientists developing software and analysis techniques for various astrophysics flight missions. In 2000 Dr. Pisarski moved to NASA Ames’s Research Center and worked in partnerships prior to the SBIR/STTR program management office.


Federal SBIRs as Vehicles for Small Businesses

The talk will focus on the NASA SBIR program, the technical and logistical planning required to submit a good proposal and some examples of successful nanotechnology awards.

     Geetha R Dholakia, REI Systems Inc. and NASA Ames Research Center, works at the NASA Ames SBIR/STTR program management office as the technology transfer specialist. She received a PhD in condensed matter physics from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India. She has performed research in electronic transport in the nanoscale, soft condensed matter and nanomaterials synthesis at NASA Ames Research Center. She also has extensive experience in physics based instrumentation for scanning microscopy, miniaturization of instruments for NASA on-board planetary missions and in nanosatellite trade studies. Prior to joining the NASA SBIR program, she worked as a technology consultant with SmallTech Consulting and later in technical business development for the NASA Ames partnerships office.


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