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U of M Based Start-Up, HIPERNAP LLC, Receives Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Grant

Kevin PipeDavid Hiemstra

Shorya Awtar (left), David Hiemstra (right)

HIPERNAP LLC, a University of Michigan based start-up company, has received a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant to develop and commercialize large range flexure-based nanopositioning technology for additive manufacturing and scanning probe based metrology applications.

The company’s title, HIPERNAP LLC, is short for “high performance nanopositioning,” a subset of ultra-high precision motion systems. As part of its phase I SBIR efforts, the company is presently focusing on developing novel electromagnetic actuators that simultaneously enable large range, high speed, and nanometric precision in nanopositioning systems.

The underlying technology was created in the Precision Systems Design Laboratory (PSDL), led by Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and co-founder of HIPERNAP, Shorya Awtar.

The start-up company has also recently participated in the National Science Foundation’s Innovation Corps program.

David Hiemstra, who is both a PSDL alumnus and co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of HIPERNAP, said that the program helped the company gain a stronger business perspective that complimented the already established technical facets.

“It was a crash course in identifying a product market fit and the other aspects necessary in forming a sustainable and scalable start-up,” Hiemstra said. “The experience of interviewing over one hundred potential customers in less than two months solidified our business plan and the needs of the industry.”

The I-Corps experience supplemented the support received by the Venture Accelerator at the University of Michigan, where the HIPERNAP office resides. The Venture Accelerator helps newly born U of M based businesses reach their full potential. Specifically, it offers mentorship, business development workshops, and connects companies with funding and potential investors.

The process of converting research into a sellable product has been a challenging, yet fulfilling experience for Hiemstra.

“I am really excited to learn what it takes to bring research ‘out of the lab,’” Hiemstra said. “There's a huge valley to cross and I think getting to the other side will be very satisfying.”

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