Show cover of Tough Tech Today with Meyen and Miller

Tough Tech Today with Meyen and Miller

This is the premiere show featuring trailblazers who are building technologies today to solve tomorrow's toughest challenges.

Tracks

Reimagining coastal transportation, featuring Billy Thalheimer of REGENT Craft
It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s… technically a flying boat! When challenged to imagine how to electrify aviation, Billy Thalheimer, CEO and co-founder of REGENT Craft, and his team set to work looking at what has been done with hydroplanes before – and what emerging technologies are available today that change the equation for what is possible and economically achievable.“Building with atoms is harder than building with bits. You can’t just revert to your last code push,” Mr. Thalheimer told us. “Early on, it was really just finding those investors that ‘got’ tough tech.” And such investors he did find, bringing in allied capital with hands-on operational experience running manufacturing, aviation, and maritime businesses.REGENT Craft is settling into its expanding headquarters in Rhode Island, where the team enjoys the benefits of its specially-chosen locale: access to the U.S.A’s top naval composites experts, aerospace giants, and deep-rooted talent pools in avionics, software, and other key capabilities needed to make nontraditional vessels glide above the seas. With the potential to fundamentally change how goods and people are shuttled along coastal communities globally, REGENT has been carefully fusing together a team of interdisciplinary specialists. While it may not be the astronaut career Mr. Thalheimer originally envisioned, it sure is an exciting ride!P.S. Thank you to our episode sponsor, The End Effector! JMill will be decoding deep tech over there, so join the mailing list to get read-in.P.P.S. Thank you to our tough tech champions. Mariemma, you're our newest Pioneer! We really appreciate your support! If you’d like to follow Mariemma’s example, take a look at our pay-if-you-can membership options so you can help us bring Tough Tech Today to more folks!
30:39 3/14/24
Deploying undersea explorers, featuring Jeff Smith of Saab
The blue parts of our planet are beautiful yet stunningly punishing for even our toughest of technologies.Dark, crushing, unexplored, and unknown – the depths of the seas are where an explorer like Jeff Smith has devoted his career to understanding. As the Vice President and General Manager of Autonomous and Undersea Systems at Saab, Inc., Smith has experience developing submersibles of nearly every shape and size, including some of the most advanced systems for remotely-operated and autonomous research vessels. A distinguished figure in the undersea robotics realm, Smith brings a wealth of experience from his involvement in innovative startups and contributions to significant projects supporting the US Navy and other long-standing partners in ocean exploration. His journey, inspired by childhood memories of Jacques Cousteau's adventures, has led him to a career where his passion for the seas intersects with cutting-edge technology, embodying the adage that when you do what you love, it hardly feels like work.Our conversation with Smith offers an insightful look into the challenges and opportunities within ‘blue technologies’. He highlights the critical role of autonomy and robotics in probing and protecting over 70% of the Earth's surface covered by oceans. His work developing cost-effective undersea systems underscores the importance of practical approaches in advancing our understanding and capabilities in marine environments. Smith also shares his entrepreneurial journey, from his start with a credit card and a dream to building Riptide Autonomous Solutions (acquired by BAE Systems), a major force in the unmanned undersea vehicle space. This episode not only peers into the technical aspects of undersea exploration but also touches on the broader implications for environmental conservation and defense. Smith’s emphasis on the need for continued innovation, especially in battery technology and onboard machine intelligence, points to a future where autonomous undersea vehicles play a pivotal role in addressing some of the planet's most pressing challenges. This conversation with Jeff Smith not only educates but also inspires, reminding us of the vast, unexplored frontiers beneath the waves and the tough tech required to navigate them safely.P.S. Thank you to our episode sponsor, The End Effector! JMill will be decoding deep tech over there, so join the mailing list to get read-in.P.P.S. Thank you to our tough tech champions. We really appreciate your support! If you’d like to follow Erika’s example, take a look at our pay-if-you-can membership options so you can help us bring Tough Tech Today to more folks!
54:54 2/13/24
Tough Tech Today Season 4 Preview: Exploring Oceans, Quantum Realms, and Machine Intelligence
Tough Tech Today is transitioning seasons, recapping our Season 3 themes exploring the tough tech domains of biology, space, and fusion energy. We are also preparing for the show's fourth season and we are really excited for it!Upcoming themes:Blue tech – The advanced technologies of the maritime industry. Incredible machines, sustainable oceans, and mysteries to solve in our planet's seas.Quantum sciences – A wild world where physics gets weird, we are super curious about opportunities in computing, sensing, and communication.Artificial Intelligence – While it was only fairly recently that "A.I." has debuted on the pop-culture zeitgeist, for years tech trailblazers have been developing incredible applications of machine intelligence to solve our world's toughest challenges.Thank you, our Season 3 guests!BioTechNew Equilibrium Biosciences - Virginia BurgerElevian - Mark AllenConcerto Biosciences - Cheri AckermanSpaceSpace Capital - Chad AndersonMithril Technologies - Scarlett KollerArkenstone Ventures/USAF USSF - Preston DunlapFusionProxima Fusion - Francesco SciortinoTDK Ventures / Type One Energy - Tina TosukhowongFocused Energy - Thomas Forner and Pravesh PatelP.S. Thank you to our tough tech champions. We really appreciate your support! If you’d like to level-up your support of our work, take a look at our pay-if-you-can membership options so you can help us bring Tough Tech Today to more folks!
13:32 1/9/24
Fusing atoms with lasers, featuring Thomas Forner and Pravesh Patel of Focused Energy
If this company perfectly combines lasers and atoms, the reaction could be worth trillions of dollars.Focused Energy’s Thomas Forner, CEO, and Pravesh Patel, CTO, join us to talk about making lasers. Lots and lots of lasers. But for what aim? They are pointing hundreds of directed beams at a tiny target: a millimeter-sized plastic capsule of deuterium and tritium, about the size of a peppercorn. These experiments may reveal a commercial pathway to grid-scale fusion energy. In contrast to other pursuits for nearly limitless clean energy such as stellarators and tokamaks, our third installment of the Tough Tech Today fusion series spotlights Focused Energy’s inertial approach to excite hydrogen isotopes. Uniquely straddling the Atlantic to tap into specialized talent pools in Austin, Texas, and Darmstadt, Germany, this team is leveraging discoveries from top fusion labs in the U.S. and Europe. The company has spun out of the Technical University of Darmstadt and combined with talent from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, where the first net energy gain from nuclear fusion was demonstrated in 2022.In a planet hungry for energy, the company aims to generate significant revenues within a few years, fast-tracking commercialization of fusion energy while tapping into early revenues streams Focused Energy is deriving from testing other organizations’ technologies, cleaning up nuclear waste, and providing other valuable services as the company matures its laser drivers, high-gain ignition facility, and, eventually, establishes a pilot power plant. It is a lot of progress for a venture that has raised $82 million to date, including closing an $11 million Series A in 2023. From maintaining a permanent presence among regulators in Washington, D.C., to working with other energy companies to ‘educate the market’ about why fusion energy is now a venture-class investment opportunity, Forner, Patel, and the Focused Energy team exemplify a multinational collaboration of some of the world’s top minds.P.S. Thank you to our tough tech champions. We really appreciate your support! If you’d like to level-up your support of our work, take a look at our pay-if-you-can membership options so you can help us bring Tough Tech Today to more folks!🔖Topic Timecodes:[1:50] Focused Energy’s approach to fusion[6:07] Differences from WX-7[7:41] Magnetic vs. inertial fusion[11:16] How ignition discovery changed the inertial fusion industry[12:46] Focused’s focus[14:18] Biggest misconception about fusion in venture capital[17:52] Comparison of risks between fusion, fission, and autonomous driving industry[20:57] Developing in public vs private sector[24:48] Founding story of Focused Energy[28:23] Working between US and Germany[34:30] Balancing cooperation and competition[36:16] Connections to government and politics[40:10] What’s on the whiteboard[41:53] Number one technology priority for Focused Energy[43:28] How does inertial fusion work?[48:30] Focused Energy is hiring🧠Relevant Links:Episode homepage: https://www.toughtechtoday.com/fusing-atoms-with-lasers/Thomas Forner on LinkedIn: https://de.linkedin.com/in/forner-thomasPravesh Patel on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/pravesh-patelFocused Energy homepage: https://focused-energy.world👏Credit Roll: Producers: Jonathan 'JMill' Miller and Forrest MeyenGuests: Thomas Forner and Pravesh PatelHosts: JMill and Forrest MeyenEditing: JMillTranscript: JMill
50:33 12/12/23
Bringing fusion to the grid, featuring Tina Tosukhowong of TDK Ventures
Investors are betting big on clean energy becoming the norm.Tina Tosukhowong of TDK Ventures joins us for a review of the major approaches to curbing carbon emissions in hard-to-abate industries. A thorough assessment led Tosukhowong to opportunities for practical, grid-scale fusion. TDK Ventures invested in Type One Energy Group, a private fusion company affiliated with the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Their stellarator-based design is one of several that have emerged in recent years, with the Type One team and their thesis-driven backers like Tosukhowong of TDK Ventures being among the leaders of commercial fusion approaches in the United States.TDK Ventures is pursuing “big ticket items that contribute to climate change”, Tosukhowong states, including  aviation, shipping, cement, steel, industrial heat, and the overall building sector. Each is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, each is foundational to our society’s operation, and each is in the crosshairs of tough tech startups looking to preserve the habitability of our planet for future generations. 
45:36 11/14/23
The Star Machine: How Proxima Fusion is Powering the Sustainable Grid! Featuring Francesco Sciortino
How do we harness the power of the stars to deliver clean energy on Earth?It has been a collective goal – and, perhaps, an impending imperative – for human civilization to secure renewable energy sources for its present and future needs. The team at Proxima Fusion (https://www.proximafusion.com/about), led by co-founder and CEO Francesco Sciortino (https://www.linkedin.com/in/francesco-sciortino-aa340180/), is focused on one approach to build a fusion power plant. Their use of a “stellarator”, a wildly complex machine that until recently has been literally impossible to build, could prove the economic viability of the design and its underlying physics. Headquartered in the booming ‘tough tech’ center of Munich, Germany, and drawing in expertise globally, Francesco shares with us how his team of scientist-engineers are leveraging prior learnings from tokamak systems as well as integrating institutional knowledge from their stellarator’s predecessor, the famed Wendelstein 7-X reactor built by the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics.P.S. Thank you to our tough tech champions. Special shoutout to Erika – you are our first Advocate member. We really appreciate your support! If you’d like to follow Erika’s example, take a look at our pay-if-you-can membership options so you can help us bring Tough Tech Today to more folks!🧠Relevant Links:Episode homepage: www.toughtechtoday.com/harnessing-the-power-of-a-star/Francesco Sciortino on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/francesco-sciortino-aa340180/Proxima Fusion homepage: http://proximafusion.com/MIT PSFC article about Proxima Fusion: https://www.psfc.mit.edu/news/2023/from-mit-bonds-to-stellarator-breakthroughs-proxima-fusion👏Credit Roll: Producers: Jonathan 'JMill' Miller and Forrest MeyenGuest: Francesco SciortinoHosts: JMill and Forrest MeyenEditing: JMillTranscript: Alan Yan and JMillBlog Author: JMillArt Design: JMill (stellarator icon credit Olena Panasovska)🔖Topic Timecodes:[forthcoming]📖Transcript:Transcript is viewable here: https://otter.ai/u/cEyXpgYNFKgTPRZWbR78cvc-88A
59:11 10/10/23
Mastering Billion-Dollar Tech Investments & Galactic Defense 💸🛰️👾 featuring Preston Dunlap
Standing up a space force within the world’s largest bureaucracy is not for the faint of heart.Preston Dunlap – former (and first) Chief Architect / Chief Technology Officer of the United States Air Force and Space Force and present CEO of Arkenstone Ventures – has developed a privileged view into the government machinations necessary to design, develop, and buy the right mix of tough tech capabilities. Mission-focused and multidisciplinary, Dunlap and the organizations in which he engaged at the most senior levels have commanded hundreds of billions of dollars in defense acquisitions.A curious combination of computer scientist, operations researcher, and international relations practitioner, Dunlap walks us through his approach to investing vast amounts of capital into companies and organizations big and small. We also discuss what it is like working within the government, aligning and mobilizing tremendous human resources to solve some of the biggest challenges facing the United States… which may or may not include actual space invaders.P.S. Tough Tech Today is now open to patron support, so we have launched a pay-if-you-can membership so you can help us bring Tough Tech Today to more folks! 🎧Listen: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1169378/13570194-architecting-the-space-force-with-preston-dunlap-of-arkenstone-ventures 🧠Relevant Links:Episode homepage: www.toughtechtoday.com/architecting-the-space-force/Preston Dunlap on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/preston-dunlap/Preston's Documents list: https://www.linkedin.com/in/preston-dunlap/recent-activity/documents/👏Credit Roll: Producers: Jonathan 'JMill' Miller and Forrest MeyenGuest: Preston DunlapHosts: JMill and Forrest MeyenEditing: JMillTranscript: Alan Yan and JMillBlog Author: JMillArt Design: JMill (Space Force emblem credit to United States Space Force.)🔖Topic Timecodes:[2:08] What is Arkenstone Ventures?[4:58] Most exciting technology areas[7:47] Thoughts on government and VC investments in space[14:02] New emerging phenomena, e.g. unidentified anomalous phenomena (UAPs)[19:21] Bringing companies on board and helping them grow[25:25] How starting Arkenstone was different than joining another company[31:34] Biggest challenges as CTO of Air Force and Space Force[37:39] Staying up to date and knowledgeable about many systems and sciences[42:31] Does Preston spend time trying to predict the future of tech?[46:08] Dealing with setbacks[50:46] The name and ethos of Arkenstone Ventures [53:04] Preston’s closing thoughts📖Transcript:Transcript is viewable here: https://otter.ai/u/orLilBYuMDszJkz8bsif89OoNMA
58:51 9/12/23
Tracking weather from space, featuring Scarlett Koller of Mithril Technologies
An early-stage startup will offer unparalleled weather data when it unfolds its orbital sensors.Captivated by the stars and focused on improving life on Earth, Mithril Technologies founder and CEO, Scarlett Koller, is venturing into weather awareness and storm tracking by launching and commercializing a large space-based sensor. In this episode, we have the privilege of learning how Koller and her co-founder are translating a new technology out of the lab and into a space business.Aviation, shipping, insurance, and defense industries are each keen to get better clarity on Earth’s complex atmosphere at any given place and time. Where we currently get a partial image once a day, Mithril's technology offers nearly a complete image per second, a significant improvement that could have profound implications for disaster management. Utilizing microwave radiometry and with an incredible ambition to create huge 100-meter-diameter orbiting reflectors, Mithril’s platform would change the way storms are tracked by providing real-time images of the whole internal structure of a storm. Such holistic data is not available today, as some of the best approaches over the decades continues to be the reliance on specialized flight crews to fly instrumented airplanes through a storm… a risky, imperfect strategy that only provides incomplete snapshots of a storm system. Likewise, satellite imagery to-date provides only slivers of a weather pattern.Though complex and fraught with challenges, the allure of space and its relationship to our planet inspires and drives tough tech trailblazers like Koller. With Mithril, she hopes to make an impact in the field of Earth observation and contribute to the realization of humankind's space dreams.P.S. Tough Tech Today is now open to patron support, so we have launched a pay-if-you-can membership so you can help us bring Tough Tech Today to more folks! 🧠Relevant Links:Episode homepage: https://www.toughtechtoday.com/tracking-weather-from-space/Scarlett Koller on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/scarlett-koller-17748682/Mithril Technologies homepage: https://www.mithril.space👏Credit Roll: Producers: Jonathan 'JMill' Miller and Forrest MeyenGuest: Scarlett KollerHosts: JMill and Forrest MeyenEditing: JMillTranscript: Alan Yan and JMillBlog Author: JMillArt Design: JMill🔖Topic Timecodes:timecodes will be available after release.📖Transcript:Transcript is viewable here: https://otter.ai/u/93uhbOa_QUnHu3_8HDut2FamviI
51:35 8/8/23
Betting on Space, featuring Chad Anderson of Space Capital
In one sentence: The space economy is booming in more ways than one.Space-based assets are changing the way industries operate on Earth. Chad Anderson – Founder and Managing Partner at Space Capital – is one of those individuals who has a deep perspective on the what it is like backing the entrepreneurs who are launching the newest breed of space companies.An investor by profession and explorer by passion, Anderson relates to us how “the economy of the future” will be built on global positioning systems, geospatial intelligence, and communications.To paraphrase the title of a book by Ashlee Vance, the heavens have gone on sale. Anderson’s evangelism is perhaps not only warranted, but perhaps fully validated, as exhibited by his and his team’s early investments in mature startups such as Planet and LeoLabs and younger companies such as Quantum Exchange and Lunar Outpost. (Note that Lunar Outpost is Tough Tech Today co-host Forrest Meyen’s company, which we covered in episode 9 with the founder and CEO, Justin Cyrus.)We also learn about Anderson’s unique experiences concocting whiskey and mezcal in pursuit of adventure and cultural discovery.P.S. Tough Tech Today is now open to patron support, so we have launched a pay-if-you-can membership so you can help us bring Tough Tech Today to more folks! 🧠Relevant Links:Episode homepage: https://www.toughtechtoday.com/betting-on-space/Chad Anderson on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/chadson/Space Capital homepage: https://www.spacecapital.com👏Credit Roll: Producers: Jonathan 'JMill' Miller and Forrest MeyenGuest: Chad AndersonHosts: JMill and Forrest MeyenEditing: JMillTranscript: Alan Yan and JMillBlog Author: JMillArt Design: JMill🔖Topic Timecodes:[0:51] Chad Anderson’s bio and story[07:21] Recent transformations in the space market[10:55] Space Capital’s first investment[14:37] Identified the most promising seed stage startups[17:22] How time horizons affect investing in early-stage space startups[23:05] How awareness about space is affecting companies and markets[27:30] More applications for space, namely satellite communications[31:02] Space Capital's investment in Rendered.ai[37:59] Toughest technology challenges to solve in space[45:17] Geopolitical subtext to commercial space pursuits[52:44] Chad’s side projects📖Transcript:Transcript is viewable here: https://otter.ai/u/1LGDcrnMBxtkqjzd9QvvfS5Toq4
59:29 7/11/23
Orchestrating microbes, featuring Cheri Ackerman of Concerto Biosciences
In one sentence... The interactions of the microbial world within us has been incredibly difficult to see – until now.From the depths of our intestines to the surface of our skin, our bodies are host to trillions of microbial cells spanning thousands of species. While critical to helping us to fend off illnesses and digest complex foods, we know very little about the complex interactions among these microbes.The team at Concerto Biosciences, led by CEO and Cofounder Cheri Ackerman, has put in place a key step in advancing the understanding of ourselves: a system, the “kChip”, that enables measurement of the interactions that occur among a multitude of species. The result of Concerto Biosciences’s high-throughput, combinatorial approach includes new medications, better health outcomes, and the early glimpses into previously undiscovered relationships occurring in and among every living creature, with fascinating applications beyond therapeutics such as within agriculture. Building an ensemble of microbial species and orchestrating them for a particular purpose is non-trivial and previously unimaginable. Much works remains, as it is difficult to capture real-world bacterial diversity or environmental complexity, but the kChip platform and library of multifactorial interactions enables a robust foundation for new research and development.Dr. Ackerman and her colleagues have set their company’s sight on first addressing imbalances with the skin microbiome, with particular attention on developing a sophisticated yogurt-like topical treatment for eczema. We dive deep into how this all works, from the invention of the kChips’ droplets-based platform to how the raw technology is maturing past its origins in an academic research lab.P.S. Tough Tech Today is now open to patron support, so we have launched a pay-if-you-can membership so you can help us bring Tough Tech Today to more folks! 🧠Relevant Links:Episode homepage: https://www.toughtechtoday.com/orchestrating-microbes/Cheri Ackerman on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/cheriackerman/Concerto Biosciences: http://concertobio.comfoundational publication on kChip: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31186361/👏Credit Roll: Producers: Jonathan 'JMill' Miller and Forrest MeyenGuest: Cheri AckermanHosts: JMill, Forrest Meyen, Malvika Verma MillerEditing: JMillTranscript: Alan Yan and JMillBlog Author: JMillArt Design: JMill🔖Topic Timecodes:[2:12] Introduction to kChip and why it matters[5:57] Range of microbes the kChip can test[8:31] Cheri’s cofounder, working from Killian Court at MIT[9:27] Physicality of the kChip[10:34] Business aspects of Concerto[13:35] Manufacturing the kChip and scaling experiments[14:50] Invention of kChip and toughest technical challenge at Concerto[16:33] Different markets for kChip, different microbiomes[18:49] Complexity of these microbiomes and how well kChip approximates a microbiome, e.g. skin microbiome[22:40] Value creation of Concerto[24:32] Who owns the data and do Concerto’s partners care about it?[26:17] Ag tech applications of microbes[30:29] Microbes and relationship to synthetic biology[33:33] Delivery mechanism and formulation of Concerto’s products[35:07] Post-Series A. Focusing on eczema and then platform development[36:14] Out-licensing at Concerto[39:36] Upcoming technical milestones[43:12] Cheri’s responsibilities, past experiences
55:27 6/13/23
Unveiling age-defying proteins, featuring Mark Allen of Elevian
In one sentence...Aging is malleable and there is a particular, mysterious protein of interest that may enable new therapies for age-related diseases such as stroke, diabetes, and obesity.Young blood in old bodies has been demonstrated in several studies to counteract some age-correlated ailments. Mark Allen, a medical doctor by training and an entrepreneur in practice, co-founded Elevian to understand and commercialize therapies using a recombinant growth differentiation factor known as GDF11, a ‘magic’ protein, as referenced by the New York Times. Dr. Allen describes how his team is developing new medicines targeting the aging process, rather than the prevailing approach of most pharmaceutical products that target individual diseases. Highlighting a surprising result, if humanity was able to eradicate cancer completely, the outcome would only increase the average human lifespan by an estimated two to three years, while doubling the incidence of age-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s. With its scientific foundations beginning emerging from the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, the Elevian team is rigorously exploring GDF11 and its effective use while navigating commercialization challenges. Specifically, how can an age-related therapy be reimbursable when “age” is not yet officially a disease (based on medical billing code)? We discuss with Dr. Allen about Elevian’s path ahead and the strategies at work.🧠 Relevant Links:Episode page, transcript, and podcast listening links: https://toughtechtoday.com/unveiling-age-defying-proteinsMark Allen on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/markallenmdElevian (company): http://elevian.com👏 Credit Roll:Producers: JMill and ForrestGuest: Mark AllenHosts: Jonathan ‘JMill’ Miller and Forrest MeyenEditing: JMillTranscript: Alan Yan and JMillBlog Author: JMillArt Design: JMill🔖 Topic Timecodes:[2:02] What does Elevian do and why dealing with aging matters[3:42] Initial research and discovering GDF11[7:17] What does giving GDF11 do?[8:54] How Eleven strategically went about finding product-market fit with its GDF11 discoveries[11:17] Protecting their invention[14:27] History: from the lab to Elevian[20:33] GDF11 vs. GDF8[25:17] Parabiosis model and common misconceptions of GDF11[26:22] Recombinant protein manufacture and the biotech industry[30:03] Elevian’s hypothesis and why these proteins are exciting[31:44] More on how Elevian came to be: Mark Allen’s background[37:42] Malleability of biological age and Elevian’s role[40:36] Accessibility of Elevian, and reimbursement model[42:18] Stroke as the first disease for Elevian's commercial application of GDF[46:16] Experiments in mice to humans to widely available treatments: how far along Elevian is in the process[48:34] More on Mark’s background[51:44] Solving aging[55:21] “Anti-aging”[56:44] What do GDF11 and GDF8 look like?[58:39] Biotech collaborations and the industry[1:00:15] Mark’s final message
62:22 5/9/23
Creating new and better medicines, featuring Virginia Burger of New Equilibrium Biosciences
In one sentence...Computational biology is enhancing our understanding of intrinsically disordered proteins, leading to exciting new medical treatments.OverviewFrom videogames to protein discovery, high performance computing impacts how we understand and engage with each other and the world around us. Virginia Burger, CEO and Co-Founder of New Equilibrium Biosciences, epitomizes the value of interdisciplinary skills applied to a hunch that biology and computer modeling can lead to new medical discoveries. “[New Equilibrium is] taking a problem that a lot of people have looked at before and looking at it from a completely new lens,” observes Malvika V. Miller, our biotech contributor. With their own in-house datasets and simulation capabilities purpose built for drug discovery, Dr. Burger and her team have been pushing the boundaries of generative artificial intelligence well ahead of the popular recognition of the phrase. Show NotesEpisode page, transcript, and podcast listening links: https://toughtechtoday.com/creating-new-medicines/Virginia Burger on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/virginiaburger New Equilibrium Biosciences (company): https://newequilibriumbio.comWatch this show on Youtube: https://youtu.be/PUa9f8UORvc Credit RollProducers: Jonathan "JMill" Miller and ForrestGuest: Virginia BurgerHosts: JMill and Forrest MeyenContributing Expert: Malvika V. MillerEditing: Giro Studio and JMillTranscript: Alan Yan and JMillBlog Author: JMillArt Design: JMillTopic Timecodes[2:02] What is New Equilibrium working on and what are intrinsically disordered proteins[3:17] Pervasiveness of IDPs[4:21] What does "intrinsically disordered" mean?[6:12] Commercializing the science[7:51] History of IDPs[9:26] Virginia’s co-founder and his book[13:10] Simulating IDPs & the computational wave[19:57] Quantum computing applications & algorithm design[21:16] Training data for AI models[22:55] Partnerships[24:41] Recent funding round & hiring[26:46] How to stay on top of the field[31:35] Virginia’s path[36:57] State of the field of protein folding[39:24] Biggest challenge for IDPs[40:08] The leap into starting a company[43:47] Being incubated at Petri Bio[46:19] Virginia’s advice re: startups[49:24] Virginia’s pitch to potential employees[50:45] What Virginia’s reading
53:34 4/11/23
JMill & Forrest's Epic Reveal: New Tough Tech Today Season, Monthly Groove & Upcoming Themes! 🚀🧬🔋
Join a tag-up among JMill and Forrest as we reveal something really exciting for what’s ahead: the launch of the newest season of Tough Tech Today! Plus, we mention work and babies.We set the stage for our new monthly cadence, with a new release occurring on the second Tuesday of each month. Each quarter (3 months), we focus on a theme. The next three themes are Biology (2023Q2), Space (2023Q3), and Energy (2023Q4). We really appreciate your support and enthusiasm for Tough Tech Today, and it is our honor to share with you our conversations with tough tech trailblazers on all the upcoming episodes!Stay tough!Episode page, transcript, and podcast listening links: https://toughtechtoday.com/epic-reveal-new-season/ Subscribe with your favorite podcast service: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1169378/12603524-jmill-forrest-s-epic-reveal-new-tough-tech-today-season-monthly-groove-upcoming-themes Watch this show on Youtube: https://youtu.be/Yf7a9oWT01k 
03:54 4/7/23
M12 bets big on the digital frontier with Matt Goldstein
Digitization of the physical world brings new synergies and expanding attack surfaces – so it is key to invest in those who defend us.—————Overview: Probing the cybersecurity of 3D printing, scaling the digital transformation of manufacturing, and developing quantum-safe encryption for the next evolution of the Internet, Matt Goldstein, Managing Director at M12, Microsoft’s Venture Fund, shares with us the criticality of investing in companies exploring the frontiers of cybersecurity and infrastructure.“No one thinks their front door lock is obnoxious,” shares Goldstein, yet there remains a consumer hurdle in adopting baseline cybersecurity practices such as updating software, avoiding password reuse, and leveraging multi-factor authentication. Fear-mongering is one approach, but also “it’s up to us both as cybersecurity practitioners – call them lockbuilders – as well as the homebuilders, the application builders, to make their solutions and products inherently more secure and inherently less attractive to attackers,” tells Goldstein. Also discussed is Goldstein’s path from being a “bad software developer” to venture capital, including the workings of M12, its relationship with Microsoft, and ever-present opportunities for value creation among security startups. “Cybersecurity will never be solved. It is a fundamentally asymmetric problem. The economic incentives of attackers to get incredibly creative match the economic incentives of defenders to find newer and better creative solutions to their attacks.”—————Show Notes: Episode page, transcript, and podcast listening links: https://toughtechtoday.com/cybersecurity-investing/Matt Goldstein on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mattgoldsteinpc/M12 (firm): https://m12.vcSubscribe with your favorite podcast service: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1169378/8742841-m12-bets-big-on-the-digital-frontier-with-matt-goldsteinWatch this show on Youtube: https://youtu.be/lkEhiZ_QbtU
58:35 6/22/21
Synthesizing High-Tech Food is TOUGH, featuring Kate Krueger of Helikon
In one sentence: “Synthesizing” and “food” are uncommon word pairings, but the engineered dishes they serve may be an appetizing feast for the senses.Overview: Climate change, a growing global population, and maturation of new biotechnologies are driving the motivation for – and means of – producing more food. Engineering is improving traditional agricultural means for food production, yet, in our conversation with Kate Krueger of Helikon, emerging synthesization techniques are bringing food from the lab to the market, with exciting and healthy results. Topic Timecodes:00:59 What is "high-tech food"01:57 "Cheese doodle" tech04:06 Recombinant protein technology06:17 Relationship between recombinant protein technology and climate change08:07 Growth factors & proteins11:58 Veracity of claims of cosmetic benefits due to wheat-grown proteins12:38 Analogy to stem cells13:04 Economic challenge of growing growth factors14:42 Summary of mechanism for generating proteins genetically16:50 Is eating meat bad for the environment?19:01 Wildtype and genetically-engineered salmon19:41 Taste of lab-grown meat & "fat tech"21:02 Politics around meat-eating & environmental sustainability concerns23:00 Potential for lab-grown meat25:28 More funding for startups than universities & Kate's cross-silo experience in cell ag space28:39 Helikon Consulting32:01 Potential harms for "high-tech food" & regulation by FDA/USDA34:43 Long-term effects on human microbiome due to consumption of lab-grown meat as opposed to more "biodiverse", from-the-wild foods36:50 Red tomatoes & ethylene gas38:45 Kid Kate & why biology/chemistry as concentration40:01 Why consulting for Kate now?41:10 Balancing industry and academic perspectives45:40 Rapid-fire questions for Kate47:45 Kate asks us rapid-fire questions51:44 Kate's advice to audienceShow Notes:Episode page, transcript, and podcast listening links: https://www.toughtechtoday.com/synthesizing-food/Kate Kruger on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ktkruegerHelikon (company): https://www.helikon.xyzWatch this show on Youtube: https://youtu.be/W55ZojPWblc𝞣 
52:43 4/8/21
Exposing cancer with bioengineering, featuring Cyriac Roeding of Earli
In one sentence:We can make cancer cells tell us exactly where they are.—————Overview:Consumer internet entrepreneurs lack many of the skills for the life sciences revolution – or do they? Cyriac Roeding, CEO and co-founder of Earli, shows us what his team of bioengineers are accomplishing by applying fast-learning software development discipline to hard life science problems. Earli’s mouse and canine models are producing exciting results inducing cancer cells to expose their locations, enabling precision medicine to pinpoint malignant from benign many months earlier than state-of-the-art techniques. “I love the idea of having multiple shots on goal… rather than spending a billion dollars on small molecule development,” says Cyriac.As expeditiously as it has progressed, the Earli story is not without its difficult periods, including the death of a gifted co-founder. “First, I cried... I [had become] very close to him. As brilliant a scientist as he was, he was an even more wonderful human being. I loved this man,” shares Cyriac. “Our team rallied behind the whole situation,” and we learn how Cyriac, his co-founder, and the Earli team reinforced their commitment to save lives as quickly as they can. —————Show Notes:Episode page, transcript, and podcast listening links: https://toughtechtoday.com/exposing-cancer/Cyriac Roeding on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/cyriacroeding/Earli (company): https://www.earli.comWatch this show on Youtube: https://youtu.be/XYzvEx9F0g4
65:44 3/23/21
Jmill goes glamping while Forrest lands on Mars and launches a new company.
Just a quick Tough Tech Today update as we take a bye week and prepare for our guest in two weeks.
07:51 3/2/21
Google Maps for gold? AI-Assisted Mine Prospecting is Tough!
In one sentence: When the frontiers of geology overlap with the frontlines of contested regions, international collaborations help protect minerals core to our civilization.—————Overview:There’s a world of minerals in every electronic device. Anything that cannot be grown must be mined, Emily King tells us. A global mining expert and founder of Prospector Portal, Emily shares stories and advancements in the finding, protecting, and stewarding of minerals.From digitizing and structuring disparate datasets sourced around the globe, to mobilizing with armed teams to identify and secure minerals critical to humanity’s future, our conversation takes a journey from the rocks beneath us to the rocks above us, where advanced space technologies further our understanding of lunar regolith, Martian soil, and frozen asteroids – as well as the legal and commercial implications of their mining.—————Show Notes:→ Episode page, transcript, and podcast listening links: https://toughtechtoday.com/mine-prospecting/→ Emily King on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/emily-scott-king/→ Prospector Portal (company): https://www.prospectorportal.com/→ On the Rocks (podcast): https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/on-the-rocks/id1536817770→ Watch this show on Youtube: https://youtu.be/mcE96CrNgpo
53:51 2/18/21
Unlocking new mRNA Treatments with Jake Becraft, CEO of Strand Therapeutics
In one sentence: Unlocking new mRNA treatments will save lives, but it's not as simple as that.—————Overview—————Jake Becraft of Strand Therapeutics is an expert in designing and programming mRNA, critical strands of genetic material that provide instructions for making proteins. As one suite of tools in the emerging synthetic biology toolkit, mRNA is a twenty-first century harbinger of life. Yet, with all powerful tools, there are risks of accidental or intentional misuse. It is this shared responsibility among the scientific, private, and public realms that Becraft advocates for thoughtful, anticipatory stewardship of these influential technologies. Stunningly, it's no longer science fiction to consider pre-making vast numbers of vaccines for every conceivable pandemic vector and their mutations. This, the 'Manhattan project for vaccines', is a matter of national defense, Becraft argues.We are joined by contributing expert Malvika V. Miller for an episode featuring a wide-ranging discussion on synbio, STEM advocacy, national security policy, and more.—————Topic Timecodes—————[01:04] What Strand Therapeutics does[03:24] Using messenger RNA technology for cancer and other rare diseases[07:20] What is unique about Strand’s tech and its therapeutic delivery mechanism[11:31] Targeting mechanism for constantly-changing heterogenous targets[16:18] Biohacking and open-source science[20:32] Biohacking security and regulation[24:46] Increasing importance of biotech security[29:33] Starting Strand Therapeutics[32:14] mRNA vs. DNA[35:38] Current challenges of synthetic biology field[37:56] Prioritizing at Strand across many use cases of mRNA, a platform therapeutic[40:41] Making medical developments more efficient and quicker[42:28] Cancer as a key focus at Strand & strategy outlook[43:20] Different perceptions of justifiable speed in developing consumer products vs. biotech[46:23] Perception that COVID-19 vaccine was “rushed” & trusting regulatory agencies[50:22] “Manhattan Project for vaccines”[57:13] Who supports and pays for such a defense project—————Show Notes—————Episode page, transcript, and podcast listening links: https://toughtechtoday.com/programming-mrna/Jake Becraft on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jacob-becraft-biotech/Malvika V. Miller on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/malvikavmillerStrand Therapeutics (company): https://www.strandtx.com/A National Strategy for Synthetic Biology (publication): https://www.jstor.org/stable/26937411Subscribe with your favorite podcast service: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1169378/7631545-programming-mrna-with-jake-becraftWatch this show on Youtube: https://youtu.be/6NAyFuCkC-U
59:57 2/2/21
Freedom Without Fear - Making injections effortless with autoinjector tech to saves lives, with Conor Cullinane of Pirouette Medical
In one sentence: A needle shaped like a hockey puck is a ‘revolutionary’ medical device that can deliver epinephrine during a severe allergic reaction on Earth or in space.  —————Overview—————EpiPens and other emergency auto-injectors have changed little for decades, though there are known limitations in their accidental (mis)use. Conor Cullinane, co-founder of Pirouette Medical, shows us his team’s surprisingly non-needlelike auto-injector that is shaped smooth, flat, and round, and easily totable so those at risk can have, in the company’s words, “freedom without fear”.Following a patient-centered design process supported by the founders’ expertise in human factors engineering for bioastronautics applications, the team is shepherding their medical device through the US Food & Drug Administration review process. We have a front row seat in how they are managing the translational process of medical device design and development.—————Show Notes—————Episode page, transcript, and podcast listening links: https://toughtechtoday.com/making-injections-effortless/Conor Cullinane on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/conorrcullinane/Pirouette Medical (company): https://www.pirouettemedical.com/Subscribe with your favorite podcast service: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1169378/7277551Watch this show on Youtube: https://youtu.be/AMX2ans63UA
65:30 1/13/21
Tough Tech Today in 2020 and Beyond (Year in Review)
A chat to review the first year of Tough Tech Today.
42:29 1/1/21
$2.5B Exit Entrepreneur, Sujal Patel, is Creating a Proteomics Startup to Upgrade Human Health
In one sentence...Human health upgrades may be unlocked by a data storage expert focused on probing the proteome. Overview:It’s not everyday that one hears about the crucial relationship between digital data storage and biology, yet this is core to Sujal Patel’s work leading Nautilus Biotechnology. By any measure already an accomplished tech entrepreneur, Sujal’s experience building Isilon Systems (acquired by EMC for $2.5 billion) became a perfect, if non-obvious, ingredient for disentangling the complexities of proteins.If successful in analyzing the proteins within thousands of cells, Patel, his co-founder Parag Mallick, and their team may discover new drugs for present and emerging diseases. Pioneering the birth of this new proteome sequencer instrument involves deep and broad interdisciplinary collaboration. Patel says, “On our staff are mechanical engineers, software engineers, electrical engineers, and biophysicists working side-by-side with biochemists, organic chemists, bioengineering majors – all these disciplines come together to build a complete solution.” Topic Timecodes:[00:00] Episode preview[00:59] Nautilus Biotechnology and why the need to understand what’s going on at the protein level[05:03] Isilon to Nautilus[11:23] Early stages of Nautilus[14:13] Tough stuff at Nautilus[19:13] Goal of Nautilus[21:14] How Sujal went about learning a completely new field [24:17] What exactly is Nautilus building[26:54] Broader landscape of proteomic analysis companies[32:17] What is unique about Nautilus Bio[35:53] Nautilus Bio’s relationship with customers[38:22] Nautilus and COVID-19 / other pandemics[41:37] Going faster at Nautilus due to high demand[43:51] Adjusting to life with COVID-19 at Nautilus[48:02] Priorities for Nautilus in the near-term[50:58] What’s been the most fun for Sujal in building Nautilus?[53:36] Shameless plugs
55:09 12/15/20
A moon rover startup gears up for launch, featuring Justin Cyrus of Lunar Outpost
In one sentence...Living on the Moon requires infrastructure that Justin Cyrus of Lunar Outpost knows can be helpful here on Earth.OverviewEarth’s moon is viewed as the upcoming base of operations for humanity’s further exploration of the cosmos. Justin Cyrus, founder of Lunar Outpost, shares what it is like building a suite of technologies that not only meet space objectives, but also address terrestrial challenges.Incredible initiatives are underway to develop our moon into a pied-à-terre for humans on their way to Mars. These initiatives require concerted efforts between public organizations and the private sector to develop necessary technologies, revenue models, and other components that must work perfectly enough for our species’ spacefaring ambitions to come to fruition. Show NotesEpisode page, transcript, and podcast listening links: https://toughtechtoday.com/moon-robots/Subscribe with your favorite podcast service: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1169378/6633799Watch this show on Youtube: https://youtu.be/TETPLg9ghBEJustin Cyrus on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/justin-cyrus/Lunar Outpost on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thelunaroutpost/Lunar Outpost’s homepage: https://www.lunaroutpost.comTopic Timecodes 00:50 Starting a lunar rover company02:27 What’s in regolith and how does this help us get to Mars?03:45 Advanced instrumentation and robotics04:42 The hassles of regolith06:25 Tough Tech Today exclusive: 2021 launch date set!09:25 What are valuable payloads?11:21 Swarm robotics12:46 At UC Boulder with a love for space13:24 Improving Earthlings’ environments with lunar tech20:26 Are there needs for space security services?22:44 Instagram: @thelunaroutpost25:17 When can we have rover races on the moon?27:10 Working with family to build a company29:27 What did your parents think about this?37:01 Peeking twenty years into the futureTagstough tech today,jmill,Jonathan Miller,Forrest Meyen,deep tech,hard tech,startup,entrepreneurship,venture capital,tough tech,tough technology,technology,podcast,Lunar Outpost,moon,rover,regolith,ISRU,Justin CyrusTranscripthttps://otter.ai/u/OrI6VxsKdm8tmODNCQI6CJzwmgA
41:53 12/1/20
When tough tech and dual-use ventures collide, with the U.S. Air Force Banshee Program
Banshees of the United States Air Force hunt for mission-enhancing technologies. The world's largest startup accelerator, MassChallenge, teamed up with the Air Force Labs to establish the Banshees training program. Members are U.S. Department of Defense acquisitions officers who are learning how to find tough tech and nurture dual-use ventures. Such startups are jointly serving the private commercial sector and the government as clients.Forrest and jmill discuss tech commercialization challenges and #protips from several stakeholders' points of view: as entrepreneurs, as investors, and as government liaisons. 
34:02 11/17/20
Bringing heroes home, featuring Caleb Carr of Vita Inclinata
In one sentence...A helicopter rescue mission gone awry fuels this man’s mission to bring heroes home safely with drones built for aircraft load stabilization.OverviewAs a Black Hawk helicopter’s rotors whop-whop-whopped overhead in their fight for command of the winds amid a stormy – and ultimately failed – rescue mission, a teenage Caleb Carr had a life-shaping experience that led him, many years later, to launch Vita Inclinata, a mission-focused company pioneering aerial load stabilization.Whether for medical evacuation, construction, firefighting, or many other applications, tethering loads to aircraft has always suffered from issues. Pilots of rotorcraft and fixed-wing aircraft alike must balance opposing forces to hoist humans and cargo safely. We learn from Caleb about the difficult decisions he’s faced in building a tech company with one mission: bringing heroes home.Show notesEpisode page, transcript, and podcast listening links: https://toughtechtoday.com/bringing-heroes-home/Caleb Carr on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/cbcarr/Vita Inclinata (company): https://vitatech.co/Watch this show on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lc1NHIft1sMTagstough tech today,jmill,Jonathan Miller,Forrest Meyen,deep tech,hard tech,startup,entrepreneurship,venture capital,tough tech,tough technology,technology,podcast,Caleb Carr,Colorado entrepreneur,Vita Inclinata,search and rescue,vita inclinata technologies,helicopter load stabilization,hanging load stabilization,drones,ducted fan,load stabilization drone,AFWERX,tech stars airforce
48:02 11/3/20
Bootstrapping mass spectrometry, featuring Mazdak Taghioskoui of Trace Matters
He built a mass spectrometer from scratch and reinvented it in the process!Bearing a smile, Mazdak “Maz” Taghioskoui says he immigrated to the United States from Iran for a good education and same-day shipping, two key features that have supported his focus on building – from scratch – a sophisticated next-generation analytical tool: the Trace Matters SPion mass spectrometer.Maz is the Founder and CEO/CTO of Trace Matters, and we sat down with him for show-and-tell to discuss how he and his company is reinventing the mass spectrometer to save lives here on Earth and to advance our scientific understanding of the cosmos beyond our planet.Show NotesEpisode page, transcript, and podcast listening links: https://toughtechtoday.com/bootstrapping-mass-spectrometry/Mazdak on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mazdakoskui/Trace Matters (company): https://www.tracematters.com/Greentown Labs (workspace): https://greentownlabs.com/Harvard’s Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx): https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMsr2022263Subscribe with your favorite podcast service: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1169378/5983345Watch this show on Youtube: https://youtu.be/2wsX9bWqTj4Topic Timecodes00:54 A lesson in high school chemistry03:44 History and benefits of mass spectrometry for space and medical applications04:53 Screening newborn babies’ blood for disease mitigation06:18 Instrumentation Startup: A tiny company in a world of corporates07:15 Creating a mass spectrometer… from scratch08:56 The fallacy of“if your system is complex and it’s working, you don’t change it”10:11 How I built this12:16 A case study in the 10,000 Hour Rule and brute force science13:38 Seeing years of work finally come to fruition17:24 Seeing SPion and the frog18:53 Expediting mass spectrometry-assisted brain surgery23:36 Show-and-tell in Maz’s lab24:48 Inventing a lab-scale fabrication process28:20 Following a vision or a wandering path?30:08 Getting addicted to solving challenges32:01 Immigrating to the United States for a great education and… quick shipping33:26 The resources at Massachusetts’ Greentown Labs34:37 Bootstrapping a scientific instrument company37:32 A shift in how we build instruments?39:36 Who could be first to benefit from next-generation mass spectrometry?40:52 Integrating learnings into a tech roadmap41:23 The Harvard Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) program and COVID-1942:12 Advice to a younger self: persistence, love, and remembering to eatTagstough tech today,jmill,Jonathan Miller,Forrest Meyen,deep tech,hard tech,startup,entrepreneurship,venture capital,tough tech,tough technology,technology,podcast,Mazdak Taghioskoui,Trace Matters,Trace Matters LLC,Mass Spectrometry,SpIon,Spectrometer,Greentown Labs,Green town labs,Maz,NASA Mass Spectrometry,Mass Spec,Mass Spec surgery,NASA,Science,Physics,quadrupole mass spectrometer,how does a mass spectrometer work,how a mass spec works,meyen
45:12 10/20/20
Tough Tech Venture Capital and America's Innovation Engine with Orin Hoffman
While aboard a plane nosediving into Baghdad, one may be forgiven for pondering how one’s life path could lead from vacuum cleaners to minesweeping robots. Yet, not only does Orin Hoffman, of MIT’s The Engine venture capital firm, share this humbling connection, but also how it advances an overarching narrative of the United States national industrial innovation base, VCs, and the crucial roles served by tough tech entrepreneurs. Public-private partnerships may not be what immediately comes to most people’s minds when asked about frontier tech, though government funding for basic scientific research has been commonplace in the United States for a century. “Patient capital” – a class of investors with a temperament to nurture big-bet science and engineering ventures – is helping to bridge gaps in the national “capital stack”, Orin shares on Tough Tech Today. We learn from Orin about how his team at The Engine cultivates their investment thesis, about whether a technical founder should find a business-savvy partner, and work-in-progress ideas for improving the United States as a whole by nurturing deeply technical startups via diversified, trusted capital networks.Show NotesEpisode page, transcript, and podcast listening links: https://toughtechtoday.com/investing-in-americas-innovation-engine-featuring-orin-hoffman-of-the-engine/Orin Hoffman on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/orin-hoffman-a7489230The Engine: http://engine.xyz/Subscribe with your favorite podcast service: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1169378/5761015Watch this show on Youtube: https://youtu.be/WEj-SC5wfpQYou may also like...Tough Tech Today’s episode “Venturing with federal tech”, featuring Will Dickson and Trinity Torres of FedTech: https://toughtechtoday.com/venturing-into-federal-tech-featuring-will-dickson-and-trinity-torres-of-fedtech/Tough Tech Today’s episode “Launching dual-use ventures”, featuring Katy Person of the MIT Innovation Initiative: https://toughtechtoday.com/launching-dual-use-ventures-featuring-katy-person-of-the-mit-innovation-initiative/jmill’s article, Who’s Your Ally? How Tech Startups Navigate Venture Capital and Federal Funding: https://medium.com/@iamjmill/whos-your-ally-e2ff6068cd3a
51:56 10/6/20
Venturing into federal tech, featuring Will Dickson and Trinity Torres of FedTech
What happens to the ideas generated across the United States federal government’s research initiatives? Will Dickson and Trinity Torres walk us through the pathways of taxpayer-funded technological advancements and opportunities for a diverse pool of private citizens-entrepreneurs to find commercial success licensing patents owned by the U.S. government.The United States government generates vast amounts of intellectual property across its many research organizations, national laboratories, and other technical divisions. Unbeknownst by many citizens, novel technologies are available for licensing and may be a boon to ‘proto companies’ (not-quite-yet-born startups). FedTech is an organization that conducts programs oriented to supporting the exploration of tech commercialization through federal partnership with the private sector.Our discussion spans how to find federal intellectual property, the integration of complementary non-engineering skillsets into an engineering-driven culture, and considerations for how various groups such as NavalX and the Defense Innovation Unit are changing government funding for and acquisition of tough technologies. For audience members interested in dual-use ventures and public-private partnerships and funding avenues, check out our interview entitled “Launching dual-use ventures”, featuring Katy Person of the MIT Innovation Initiative.Show NotesEpisode page, transcript, and podcast listening links: https://toughtechtoday.com/venturing-into-federal-tech-featuring-will-dickson-and-trinity-torres-of-fedtech/Will Dickson on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/williamfdicksonTrinity Torres on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/trinitytorresFedTech Venture Studio: https://www.fedtech.io/Subscribe with your favorite podcast service: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1169378/5536735Watch this show on Youtube: https://youtu.be/dg2KW5C5nSEYou may also like...Tough Tech Today’s episode “Launching dual-use ventures”, featuring Katy Person of the MIT Innovation Initiative: https://toughtechtoday.com/launching-dual-use-ventures-featuring-katy-person-of-the-mit-innovation-initiative/jmill’s article, Who’s Your Ally? How Tech Startups Navigate Venture Capital and Federal Funding: https://medium.com/@iamjmill/whos-your-ally-e2ff6068cd3a
53:15 9/22/20
Launching dual-use ventures, featuring Katy Person of the MIT Innovation Initiative
Dual-use ventures – tough tech startups pursuing commercial relationships with the private sector and federal government, are a unique class of companies with whom Kathryn "Katy" Person, of the MIT Innovation Initiative, works daily."[Working with the United States government, such as the Department of Defense,] is not for everyone and not for every business. It depends on whether you come in mission-focused... and it depends on your business strategy," says Katy. As a military veteran with a background in U.S. Army acquisitions, Katy observes "the trough of disillusionment occurs between Phase II and Phase III" of government contracts, and there is a delicate, strategic relationship that may harm or benefit a dual-use venture and with whom it chooses as allies, whether prime contractors, venture funds, government liaisons, university research hubs, and other entities.In this episode, we discuss the challenges tough tech entrepreneurs face balancing the myriad of funding opportunities and challenges afforded to dual-use ventures serving the private sector and federal government.---------------Show Notes* Episode page, transcript, and podcast listening links: https://toughtechtoday.com/launching-dual-use-ventures-featuring-katy-person-of-the-mit-innovation-initiative/* Katy Person on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/katyperson/* MIT Dual-use Ventures Incubator program: https://innovation.mit.edu/mission-innovation-program_incubator/ * jmill’s article, Who’s Your Ally? How Tech Startups Navigate Venture Capital and Federal Funding: https://medium.com/@iamjmill/whos-your-ally-e2ff6068cd3a---------------Topic Timecodes00:46 Introducing Katy and the MIT Innovation Initiative02:23 What are “dual-use ventures”?03:25 Examples of dual-use ventures04:14 Updating legacy systems05:47 Origins of dual-use technology06:41 Defense-oriented startups: in Boston and beyond08:51 DOD funding of “innovation”09:15 AFWERX and its Open Topic Solicitation10:18 The unique approaches by each branch of the U.S. military11:32 How the U.S. government thinks about “acquisitions”13:07 About Open Topics and integrating startups into defense14:21 Taking advantage of the “Small Business Set-Asides”15:58 Venture capital, DOD contracting, and dual-use startups17:54 New technological trends like robotics, hypersonics, and medical research19:14 Influences of DARPA and BARDA20:13 Where are the undersubscribed federal government contracts?21:52 Katy’s motivation for serving mission-oriented organizations23:43 Beware the government contracting ‘trough of disillusionment’24:22 The three phases of dual-use venture contracting26:09 Draper is a contractor ally for space startups27:40 Contrasting the DOD with NATO and non-US defense organizations30:30 The pervasive nature of ITAR regulation31:09 Evaluating national ‘innovation’ approaches31:52 The need for more students entering STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics)32:46 A U.S. Space Force opportunity?34:11 Putting together the puzzle of government innovation cells and tech entrepreneurs34:56 MIT’s ‘Dual-use incubator’ and Louisiana Tech’s STTR program37:30 Resources for aspirational dual-use entrepreneurs
41:05 9/8/20
Commercializing Satellite Propulsion, featuring Louis Perna of Accion Systems
No longer the domain of strictly nation-states, 'new space' is undergoing a wave of commercialization and growth. Two key engineering challenges, observed Louis Perna, are in-space communications and propulsion. He and his co-founder, Natalya Bailey, launched Accion Systems to provide cost-effective electrospray propulsion for satellites.While the complexities of space travel are something that many members of society may recognize, less obvious may be the terrestrial challenges spacefaring tech developers face: designing and manufacturing hardware, cultivating an interdisciplinary team, and working through unit economics of complicated systems. Louis details his insider's view of the privatization of space, one electrospray ion thruster at a time.Show Notes– Episode page, transcript, and podcast listening links: https://toughtechtoday.com/commercializing-satellite-propulsion-with-louis-perna/– Louis Perna on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/louis-perna-6b237621Topic Timecodes01:10 Electrospray propulsion is...02:54 Transitioning tech out of a lab04:50 The Global Founders' Skills Accelerator05:36 Space industry inflection point06:54 Lowering satellite costs07:31 Failure as an option08:53 Two challenges: communications and propulsion09:53 Designing for mass manufacturability12:01 Making thousands of thrusters12:53 Kessler Syndrome responsibility14:54 Avoiding a 10,000-year delay on spaceflight16:51 Maneuvering in space19:01 Cubesats and modular design20:55 What if a low-cost satellite threatens a billion dollar satellite?22:35 How to recruit a team to build complex systems26:39 Rocket science is tough, but commercializing rocket science is tougher29:00 Making something manufacturable30:32 Learning supplier relations and quality monitoring31:34 An entrepreneurial seed?33:53 Having a partner at your side37:32 Space to remain the domain of nation-states?39:42 The Earth-focus of commercial space41:04 Manufacturing thruster components in space43:14 Water propellants43:59 Space-testing thruster tech45:54 The enticement of Very Low Earth Orbit47:09 Air-breathing satellite propulsion48:36 Advice for a fellow scientist-engineerTagsSatellite Propulsion, Ion Thrust, Electrospray, Louis Perna, Accion Systems, MIT
54:28 8/25/20