About the team
Jesus Soriano | NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION – MBA Program Director, Partnerships for Innovation (PFI); Division of Industrial Innovation and Partnerships (IIP); Directorate of Engineering: Topic - Increasing the Impact of NSF-funded Research Discoveries and Translation - Prototype Development & Proof-of-Concept through the Partnerships for Innovation program.
Jesus Soriano joined the NSF in February 2012 as a Program Director in Biological and Chemical Technologies, after 20 years of international experience in executive leadership in the biopharmaceutical and non-profit sectors, start-up formation and funding, technology commercialization, and academic teaching and research. Prior to NSF, he was the Senior Advisor to the Puerto Rico Trust for Science, Technology and Research, a technology-based development organization. Previously, he was Executive Vice President at QRxPharma, Ltd., a clinical-stage specialty pharmaceutical company focused in pain management and central nervous system disorders. Before, he was Senior Director of Business Development at Osiris Therapeutics, Inc. Previously, he held several executive leadership positions at the global bioresource center ATCC, including Vice President for IP, Licensing and International Business Development, and was Associate Director for R&D Operations and Business Development at Entremed, Inc, a clinical-stage pharmaceutical company developing therapeutics for the treatment of cancer. Jesus began his career as a family doctor in Spain; he then worked at the University of Geneva Medical School, Switzerland initially as Research Scientist and then as Assistant Professor. He initially came to the US as a visiting scientist to the National Cancer Institute (NIH) under an advanced researcher fellowship from the Swiss National Science Foundation. He holds a MBA in Corporate Finance from the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School; a Ph.D. in Medical Sciences from the University of Geneva, Switzerland; and a M.D. from the University of Alicante, Spain.
Robert L. Smith | DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE – 03T, Director SBIR/STTR Programs, Office of Naval Research; Payne, Michael (Cydecor); Topic - Innovative Solutions that Address Defense Technology Gaps Confronting the DOD & Deliver High Commercialization Potential
As Director of the Navy’s SBIR/STTR Programs, Mr. Smith manages numerous activities designed to assist small businesses in getting their technologies fully developed, tested, and inserted into products and services used by our Naval warfighters. Prior to his current assignment, Mr. Smith was the Director of Disruptive Technologies in the Office of Naval Research. The mission of the Disruptive Technologies program is to provide game changing technical options for the future Navy. Mr. Smith was also the Program Manager for the Department of the Navy’s Rapid Innovation Fund, which supports small business concerns rapidly inserting their technology solutions into acquisition programs of record. Mr. Smith was the recipient of the 2013 Department of the Oreta B. Stinson Advocacy Award (formerly Small Business Advocate Award), one of the annual Navy Acquisition Excellence Awards. The award is given by the Department’s Office of Small Business Programs as recognition of a non-small business professional within the DON that demonstrated direct strong support for the DON Small Business Program, and through their documented actions contributed significantly to improving the opportunity for small business success. Mr. Smith has a BA in Accounting from Whittier College and an MS in Systems Management from the Naval Postgraduate School.
Matthew Portnoy, Ph.D | NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH – NIH SBIR/STTR Program Manager Topic - NIH Success Stories in Translating Promising Technologies to the Private Sector; Enabling Life-Saving Innovations to Reach Consumer Markets – What are We Looking for From Applicants? The NIH Research Evaluation and Commercialization Hub (REACH) program
Dr. Matthew Portnoy is the NIH SBIR/STTR Program Manager and Director, Division of Special Programs, Office of Extramural Research, Office of the Director, NIH. In this role, he manages the $1B SBIR/STTR programs at NIH, coordinates the 24 NIH Institutes/Centers that receive funding for the programs and across HHS. Additionally, as the Director, Division of Special Programs, Dr. Portnoy and his staff ensures that NIH extramural staff are trained to meet the ever-changing demands of their job. Dr. Portnoy received his B.S. in molecular and cell biology from Penn State University. He received his Ph.D. in biochemistry and molecular biology from Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health. Matt then joined the Intramural Program of NIH National Human Genome Research Institute as a post-doctoral fellow. Dr. Portnoy made the leap to the extramural side of NIH in 2005 and joined the NIH’s National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) as a program director. Over his time at NIGMS, he managed R01 grant portfolios in DNA repair, recombination and replication, SBIR/STTR grants, F32 post-doctoral fellowships, cooperative agreements, and R25 education grants. Dr. Portnoy also served as SBIR/STTR program lead for NIGMS for 6 years prior to his current post.
Chris O'Gwin | DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY - SBIR/STTR Programs Office, Office of Science. Topic - High Priority Research and Development Needs: Areas That Support the DOE Mission
The mission of the DOE SBIR/STTR Programs Office is to manage the administration and evaluation of about 2,000 Phase I and Phase II grant applications each year. The annual budget of the DOE SBIR/STTR programs is $280M and enables the DOE to award approximately 400 Phase I and II grants every year. Chris is principally responsible for managing the DOE SBIR/STTR Outreach and Assistance program. In this capacity, he facilitates a nationwide effort to develop and increase its first-time and underrepresented small business research and development base in search of SBIR/STTR grant opportunities. Chris has worked for the DOE for many years, holding positions of leadership in both administrative and technical organizations. He received a BS in Business Education from Longwood University and an MS in Government from the Johns Hopkins University. For more information on the DOE Phase 0 Outreach and Assistance program, please visit www.doesbirlearning.com.
Scott Dockum | DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE – SBIR Program Coordinator/COR, USDA/NIFA; Topic - Vital Scientific Problems & Opportunities in Agriculture That Will Lead to Significant Public Benefits
Scott Dockum is the Program Coordinator for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program and has worked and managed the program since 2007. Scott has over 20 years managing and operating Research and Development programs across the Federal Government. He began his career supporting the Department of Defense where he was a project manager of two DoD innovative Research and Development programs called the Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP) and the Environmental Security Technology Certification Program (ESTCP). Scott also worked for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) where he managed the day to day operations of the Chief Information Officer (CIO) policy program, Office of Inspector General (OIG) and the U.S. Governmental Accountability Office (GAO) program activities. Scott is located 800 9th Street, SW, Suite 3210 Washington, DC 20024 and can be reached at [email protected] or 202-720-6346.
Gioia Messinger | SBIR STTR CON 2019 Keynote Speaker
Ms. Gioia Messinger is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer at LinkedObjects. She served as Advisor of HubEdu, Inc. Ms. Messinger co-founded Avaak Inc. in 2003. She served as the Chief Executive Officer of Avaak Inc. Ms. Messinger had extensive operational and management experience to lead Avaak into wide-scale consumer adoption of its Vue products. Prior to Avaak, she founded SUMMIT Design Technologies, Inc. an engineering services firm with Fortune 500 clients such as Motorola, Lockheed Martin, Texas Instruments and SAIC. While at SUMMIT, she was instrumental in helping her clients create novel technologies such as digital satellite television, cellular telephone chipsets and satellite phone systems. She was also Founder and served as Chief Executive Officer of MedSmart, Inc. a medical information systems company that developed patient-centric, web-enabled software solutions for healthcare systems such as UCSD School of Medicine, Sharp Hospital and Kaiser Permanente of California. She serves as the Chairman of Avaak Inc. She serves as a Director of IQinVision, Inc. She served as Director at Vicon Industries, Inc. since August 2014 until June 22, 2016. She is the Chief Judge for the Qualcomm Tricorder Xprize and Nokia Sensing Xchallenge. She is a Global 100 Mentor; a visiting lecturer and mentor at the Rady School of Management; and an advisor at the Von Liebig Entrepreneurism Center. Ms. Messinger has 3 patents granted and 11 pending. She has extensive background in connected devices, digital health and video technologies. Ms. Messinger is a high-tech entrepreneur who combines entrepreneurial spirit, business management expertise and a rich history of success and innovation in wireless, sensing and imaging technologies. She received her Master's Degree with highest distinctions in Business Administration from the University of California-Irvine, Graduate School of Management and Bachelor and Master's Degrees in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from the University of California-San Diego.
Richard S. Creager, Ph.D. |
Richard S. Creager PhD has more than 30 years’ experience in the in vitro diagnostics (IVD) industry. Currently, Dr. Creager is a partner in IOI Partners, a management consulting firm for IVD and biotechnology companies. Previously, Richard was SVP for Molecular Diagnostics and Chief Science Officer for Beckman Coulter from 2011 – 2016. He also served as Group Vice President for Beckman Coulter’s Immunoassay Business and led the growth of that business from ~ $40m to more than $700m (1997 – 2011). During his tenure, he was instrumental in identifying acquiring several key technologies and companies. He also successfully launched several innovative biomarkers that helped drive the growth of the company. Dr. Creager also held senior executive positions with Kallestad Diagnostics Sanofi Diagnostics Pasteur, the latter at which he led the development of that company’s first automated immunoassay analyzer. Richard was the chairman of the board of directors for Medical Alley, a 501(c)3 non-profit trade association that enables health technology and care organizations to innovate, succeed, and influence the evolution of healthcare in Minnesota and the surrounding region. Formerly he served as an editorial board member for In Vitro Diagnostics Technology/Dx. He currently serves on the board of two non-profits: [1] [email protected], which serves to strengthen STEM education in Orange County middle schools and [2] 1for2 education foundation, whose mission is to build a community of scholars, dedicated to being life-long learners and are committed to “pay-it-forward.” He also serves on the board of OnRamp Bioinformatics. Richard has a B.S. from Muhlenberg College, a M.S. from Duquesne University, and a PhD from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. He also attended The Wharton School of Business for their Advanced Management Program.
Mark D. Leibowitz, Ph.D. |
Mark D. Leibowitz PhD is an experienced cross-functional leader with 20+ year successful history advancing innovative research from the lab bench to the clinic. Developed strategies for selecting clinical candidates and fostering cooperation between chemistry, biology, toxicology, regulatory, medical and project management functions that produced successful IND submissions and the implementation of clinical programs. Therapeutic experience in metabolic diseases (diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease), atherosclerosis, oncology and excitable membranes. He is Interim Director, Entrepreneurial Proof-of-Concept and Innovation Center (EPIC) at University of California, Riverside responsible for developing and delivering entrepreneurial education programs in the Entrepreneurial Proof of Concept and Innovation Center (EPIC) run by UCR and serving both the university and Riverside County. Previously he was a strategic consult to the biotechnology/pharmaceutical industry in physiology, pharmacology and preclinical development. He specialized in due diligence and technical consultation on business plan development for private biotech companies and the venture capital industry including: BioLaurus - VP Research Operations for a startup preclinical molecular imaging company; Ambrx – Selection of animal models to support an emerging metabolic disease project; KineMed – Due diligence evaluation of candidate programs for in-licensing; Bay City Capital – Biology consultant to a seeded effort forming a new company. Business and scientific strategy, business plan and corporate presentation preparation; and Takeda San Diego – Preparation of a chapter on animal models of diabetes. Dr. Liebowitz is a nationally trained instructor of the highly regarded national I-Corps program teaching its principles at the University of California, San Diego and the University of California, Riverside.
Alexandra | Associate Director, International Partnerships
Alexandra is the Associate Director, International Partnerships at University California Riverside. For over 18 years, Alexandra has contributed to the development of uniquely successful brands and teams in a variety of industries. Her passion is to work with sustainable brands in North and Latin America prepared to challenge the status quo. Alexandra provides clients with branding expertise as well as strategic marketing, planning, and communication, ensuring alignment between the brand, the vision, the corporate culture, and all external manifestations. Alexandra also assists clients with international market development and penetration. Alexandra is a brand strategist; a connector and a relationship builder with a specific interest and experience in mentoring and helping build startups. Her languages include Spanish, English and French. Alexandra is a Partner and brand strategist at Earthlogic Consulting. She received her MBA from Dalhousie University and her Bachelors of Business Administration in International Business at Universidad EAFIT. She is a an I-Corps instructor at the University of California, Riverside.
Rosibel Ochoa, Ph.D. | Associate Vice Chancellor, Technology Partnerships
Rosibel Ochoa, PhD is Associate Vice Chancellor, Technology Partnerships, at the University of California, Riverside. Dr. Ochoa provides multi-year experience in the design and delivery of regional and international programs on innovation and technology commercialization, promoting close collaboration between industry and academia. She has developed entrepreneurial educational programs for university researchers and students around the world, with special interest in providing access to training and mentorship opportunities to under-represented groups. She provides mentorship to innovator teams interested in launching a technology-based startup company. Dr. Ochoa has served as Principal Investigator of multiple grants from federal and private sources to accelerate the commercialization of university technologies. She is an expert consultant to international organizations (IDB, OAS) in matters of entrepreneurship, technology development and commercialization in Latin America. Dr. Ochoa has supported creation of strategic initiatives on behalf of the Jacobs School of Engineering around global production and innovation, robotics, efficient border crossing and entrepreneurship in the CaliBaja Region. Her professional specialties encompass early stage technology commercialization, entrepreneurship, technology licensing, energy storage, materials, catalysis. She received her Masters of Science degree and PhD in Chemical Engineering from the University of Louisville.
Scott Brovsky | Director of the EPIC Small Business Development Center (SBDC)
Scott Brovsky is Director of the EPIC Small Business Development Center (SBDC) a technology-focused accelerator of the University of California, Riverside and Riverside County. He has been working to build a tech ecosystem in the Inland Southern California region whereby his mission is to help identify, mentor and get funding for promising tech startups in the Riverside County and San Bernardino County regions of California. He has been a Founder or Founding Executive of a number of startups including the VC funded mobile games studio Muti Labs, the Temecula based sports tech company NZN Labs/LIT Pro. He founded and sold his first company, Industrial Strength Network (an early interactive agency), to Frog Design in 1998. Seeing the early promise of the iPhone and App Store, he put my own capital to work as an angel investor in independent mobile games while at Brovsky Capital. In addition, as a brand marketing executive, he has a successful track record in defining, launching and driving revenue for major video game franchises such as The Avengers, Turok, Kingdom Hearts and Medal of Honor for leading entertainment companies like Disney/Marvel, Electronic Arts and Take-Two Interactive.
Stuart Berkowitz, Ph.D. | Out of the Fog Research LLC, Tech Futures Group Advisor
Stuart is the Founder and CEO of Out of the Fog Research LLC (OFR) based in Mountain View, CA. He has successfully won, managed, and transitioned multiple Navy SBIR projects. For the past 14 years, Stuart has led programs at OFR to develop and transition RF Front-end technology for SIGINT systems. Stuart has taken technology from TRL 3 to TRL 9 multiple times. For example, he managed the production of over 60 production cryogenic RF distribution units to the Cryptological Carry-On program. For these efforts in commercialization of SBIR technology, OFR received a 2015 Tibbetts Award from the SBA. He has been principal investigator on contracts from the Navy, Air Force, DARPA, and NIST. He has transitioned technology through Phase II.5, SAT/CPP, and RIF. He is the co-author of over 35 technical publications and has been awarded two patents. For his efforts in commercializing superconductivity, he received the IEEE Council on Superconductivity Rosner Award in 2012. Stuart earned his BS degree in Physics from NC State University and his Ph.D. in Physics from Boston University.
Jennifer Stewart | Office of Research and Technology Applications (ORTA) Representative for Naval Surface Warfare Center, Corona Division
Jennifer Stewart serves as the Office of Research and Technology Applications (ORTA) representative for Naval Surface Warfare Center, Corona Division. As the ORTA, Jennifer Stewart acts as a broker, connecting Corona Division's scientists and engineers with academia and industry for technology transfer. Stewart, a graduate of California Baptist University, Riverside, Calif., joined NSWC Corona's Product Engineering Assessment Department in 2003. In December 2012, Stewart left Product Engineering Assessment Department to head up the ORTA position full time as the technology transfer officer In addition to serving as ORTA, Stewart supports community economic development efforts by serving as a liaison on behalf of NSWC Corona Division with various organizations within the Riverside County region. Jennifer presently serves on the FLC Executive Board as the Far West Regional Coordinator.
Rick Shindell | President of Zyn Systems, Sequim, Washington and Publisher of SBIR Insider Newsletter
Rick Shindell is President of Zyn Systems, Sequim, Washington and Publisher of SBIR Insider newsletter, specializing in SBIR/STTR support, Federal Laboratory Technology Transfer and Federal Laboratory Consortium (FLC) Support. He works to bring small business, primes, universities and federal agencies together to help solve technical problems, foster innovation and competitiveness, job growth, and stimulate the economy. In 2016 Rick received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Small Business Administration (SBA) "In recognition for (his) extraordinary contributions to the Small Business Innovation Research Program". Previously in 2012, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Small Business Technology Council (SBTC) & National Small Business Association (NSBA) for Small Business Advocacy.
Bandhana Katoch | Director of Larta’s Agriculture Practice
Bandhana Katoch is the Director for Larta’s agriculture practice. She holds multiple graduate degrees from USA and India. She has a JD and an MBA from the University of Missouri where she focused on entrepreneurship, marketing, and management. She also has an MS in Biological Sciences from the University of Missouri where she studied the mechanism of resistance for cisplatin as a chemotherapy agent. During her graduate school in India, she studied the biochemical basis of the high resistance to oxidative stress and social behavior in genetically heterogeneous groups of Dictyostelium discoideum. Bandhana graduated from bachelors in botany, zoology, and chemistry from agriculture university in India. As a trained researcher and a business development professional for about 15 years for different academic and research institutes in USA and India she has led various initiatives in the arena of economic development by developing the entrepreneurial ecosystem, supporting student ventures and leadership, advised early stage medical and life sciences companies and small community businesses. The combination of scientific knowledge and business acumen strategically placed her in university technology transfer operations where she worked for ten years. She conducted patentability and market assessment of inventions to recommend commercialization strategies, negotiated agreements and implemented various outreach and educational training for aspiring entrepreneurs. She was also part of developing web-based technology assessment tool, TechValue which increased transparency between different university stakeholders and increased efficiency and effectiveness in the process of technology transfer. Bandhana is a co-founder of the non-profit organization, Samya Foundation located in Kolkata, India. The organization focuses on creating awareness, wellness initiatives, and interventions for people with special needs. Bandhana also co-founded CLIMB (Collaboration, Leadership, and Innovation in Missouri Businesses), with a grant sponsored by Kauffman Foundation. In other roles, she has served as adjunct faculty member for International Marketing and led Study Abroad Program to India, Board member for MU Adult Day Connection and served as Chair for UM Staff Advisory Council. As a graduate student, she served in various executive positions in different student organizations and was a recipient of Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Graduate Leadership. In her role as Director - Agriculture practice, she will work with small businesses promoting applied agricultural research and developing new service offerings, business relationships, and strategies. Bandhana will be supporting Larta’s business development initiative and other life science programs.
Carlos Gutierrez | Chief Strategy Officer of Larta Institute
Carlos Gutierrez is Chief Strategy Officer of Larta Institute, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit developing entrepreneurial ecosystems and providing a suite of services that help innovators to feed, fuel, and heal the world. Carlos oversees partnerships with US agencies supporting emerging science-based small businesses (through programs like SBIR/STTR) and technology commercialization programs for innovation agencies around the world. In the past 15 years, Larta has designed and deployed national-scale commercialization and translational research programs with an applied focus for various agencies and grant awardees (USDA, NIH, NSF, DOE, NIST, DARPA, etc.), and provided technical and business assistance (TABA) to thousands of PIs/founders that enable them to successfully develop & test viable commercialization strategies and secure non-dilutive capital. In the course of its work, Larta has built an entrepreneur-in-residence network of 120+ subject matter & commercialization specialists in various sectors: bioscience, agricultural technology, energy, environment & sustainability, IT, and materials science. Larta also maintains broad industry network we leverage to support our entrepreneur network.
SBIR/STTR Conference '19

Presented by the University of California Riverside EPIC SBDC and Powered by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

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