SBIR Hall of Fame & Tibbetts Awardees Honored at White House Ceremony: SBA Administrator Contreras-Sweet named SBIR Person of the Year; Illumina and Atlantia Offshore Limited and 45 organizations recognized for outstanding achievement

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NEWS release


Release Date:

January 10, 2017


Tiffani S. Clements, (202) 401-0035

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SBIR Hall of Fame & Tibbetts Awardees Honored at White House Ceremony

SBA Administrator Contreras-Sweet named SBIR Person of the Year; Illumina and Atlantia Offshore Limited and 45 organizations recognized for outstanding achievement

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) today inducted Illumina and Atlantia Offshore Limited into the 2017 SBIR Hall of Fame and presented the prestigious Tibbetts Award to 37 deserving small businesses, five individuals, and three supporting organizations during a White House ceremony.  Awardees were recognized for their critical roles in research and development and for successfully driving innovation and creating new jobs through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs.  

During the ceremony, SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet also received the 2016 SBIR Person of the Year award for her work, passion, dedication, and promotion of the SBIR/STTR programs.

In  making the announcement, Contreras-Sweet said: “SBA is proud to lead the SBIR/STTR program – America’s Seed Fund, as I call it – to ensure small businesses engage in research and development to continue to propel our nation’s high-tech innovation forward, from nanotechnology to aerospace to therapies for life-threatening illnesses.  I’m proud to accept this distinguished award on behalf of the entire SBIR team.”

Special recognition is being conferred on Illumina and Atlantia Offshore Limited. Illumina received SBIR funding as a startup in 2009.  It now has a market cap of over $18 billion and is the leader in DNA sequencing equipment. SBIR funding played an early catalytic role in the firm, allowing Illumina to pursue higher-risk research which contributed greatly to its main product lines.  Atlantia Offshore Limited is an exemplary example of how SBIR spurs innovation and economic success. The firm turned a half-million dollar SBIR investment into revenues that quickly exceeded $500 million. Atlantia was acquired in 2001.

Contreras-Sweet added: “Today we celebrate and honor the important technological advances pioneered by these small high-tech firms – from breakthroughs in additive manufacturing to genomic research to novel cancer therapeutics.  These innovators are creating jobs and building new industries while helping to address many of the nation’s most pressing challenges.” 

The Tibbetts Award honors the SBIR/STTR program participants and supporters that have created  a significant economic or social impact through the use of SBIR/STTR funding and are considered the best of the best from the thousands of firms that currently participate in the program.  The award is named in honor of the late Roland Tibbetts, who was instrumental in developing the SBIR/STTR programs through a career-long dedication to small business entrepreneurship, applied research and technological breakthroughs.

The SBIR/STTR programs represent the nation's largest source of early stage research and development funding for small businesses. The programs are administered by the SBA in collaboration with 11 federal agencies, who collectively supported more than $2.5 billion in federal research and development funding.  Additional information about the programs, the upcoming SBIR/STTR national conference and the SBIR Road Tour can be found at

 The 2016 Tibbetts and SBIR Hall of Fame Award Winners:

SBIR Hall of Fame

Atlantia Offshore Limited (Houston, Texas)
Illumina (San Diego, Calif.)

 Small Businesses                         

23andMe (Mountain View, Calif.)

Agile Mind, Inc. (Grapevine, Texas)

Attagene, Inc. (Morrisville, N.C.)

Biopsy Sciences, LLC (Clearwater, Fla.)

CSSI (Composite Support & Solutions Inc.) (San Pedro, Calif.)

Diagnostics for the Real World (Sunnyvale, Calif.)

EnChroma (Berkeley, Calif.)

Exelus, Inc (Fairfield, N.J.)

FirstString Research (Mount Pleasant, S.C.)

Ginkgo Bioworks (Boston, Mass.)

GVD Corporation (Cambridge, Mass.)

KeraMed, Inc. (Orange, Calif.)

Lucid (Oakland, Calif.)

Lynntech, Inc. (College Station, Texas)

Made In Space, Inc. (Moffett Field, Calif.)

Makai Ocean Engineering, Inc. (Kailua, Hawaii)

Mikro Systems, Inc. (Charlottesville, Va.)

MMA Design LLC (Boulder, CO)

Niowave, Inc. (Lansing, Mich.)

OMAX Corporation (Kent, Wash.)

Operative Experience, Inc (North East, Md.)

OptiPro Systems, LLC (Ontario, N.Y.)

Parabon NanoLabs, Inc. (Reston, Va.)

Pathfinder Systems, Inc. (Lakewood, Colo.)

Physical Sciences, Inc. (Andover, Mass.)

PittMoss, LLC (Ambridge, Pa.)

Privo Technologies (Peabody, Mass.)

QuesTek Innovations, LLC (Evanston, Ill.)

Referentia Systems, Inc. (Honolulu, Hawaii)

SFP Works, LLC (dba Flash Bainite) (Washington Twp, Mich.)

Sokikom (San Jose, Calif.)

Stratatech Corporation (Madison, Wis.)

Tangible Haptics (Tanvas) (Chicago, Ill.)

Third Wave Systems (Minneapolis, Minn.)

TRI Research Institute Austin, Inc. (Austin, Texas)

Triton Systems, Inc. (Chelmsford, Mass.)

Vindico NanoBioTechnology, Inc. (Lexington, Ky.)


David L. Sikora (Alexandria, Va.)

David Linz (Milwaukee, Wis.)

Lore-Anne Ponirakis (Arlington, Va.)

Robert Brooke (Herndon, Va.)

William A. Gern, PhD (Laramie, Wyo.)

Support Organizations

Larta Institute (Los Angeles, Calif.)

Fannin Innovation Studio (Houston, Texas)

SBIR-STTR Assistance Center (SSAC) (Sandy, Utah)

 About the Small Business Administration (SBA)

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) was created in 1953 and since January 13, 2012, has served as a Cabinet-level agency of the federal government to aid, counsel, assist and protect the interests of small business concerns, to preserve free competitive enterprise and to maintain and strengthen the overall economy of our nation.  The SBA helps Americans start, build and grow businesses.  Through an extensive network of field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations, the SBA delivers its services to people throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam.