BOX 4-8Brimrose Corporation

Brimrose Corporation was founded by Dr. Ronald G. Rosemeier while still a Ph.D. student in Johns Hopkins University material science program. After graduation, working as a post-doctoral student at the University of Maryland, he started writing SBIR proposals.

After three years of submitting unsuccessful proposals, he was awarded four Phase I’s, whose total value approximated $200,000. He started hiring his first employees and began applying for loans at banks. Because banks were not willing to give him loans backed by the SBIR awards, he amassed charges of $100,000 on credit cards. Six months later he wrote the follow-on Phase II proposals, receiving awards on three of them for a total of $1.5 million.

With these funds, he was able to hire additional employees, and expand operations. At that time 10 percent of the firm’s revenues were from commercial sales (selling X-ray imaging at tradeshows) and 90 percent from the SBIR awards. As the firm started commercializing new products, this percentage shifted to 80 percent commercial revenue and 20 percent SBIR revenue. Most of the R&D team and few of the support staff were hired under SBIR related activities. Brimrose began operations with 6 employees; by 2005 its employment level had reached approximately 60 employees. Overall, throughout its history, Brimrose has received 65 Phase I and 28 Phase II SBIR awards.

The firm’s major lines of business are industrial process control spectroscopy in the pharmaceutical and petrochemical industries, nondestructive testing and evaluation and novel opto-electronics devices. Its business model is to specialize in applied R&D. A few of the SBIR programs have directly resulted in commercial products but most have led to product improvements.

The firm’s commercialization strategy emerged from and has been greatly enhanced through its participation in SBIRs. The Phase I and Phase II SBIR funding allowed them to determine the feasibility of new technology and develop it to the point of prototype development without allocation of significant internal resources. Following prototype development, Brimrose used internal funds from previous commercial sales to bring the technology to the point of commercial availability. Thus, the SBIR funds lowered the company’s financial burden by decreasing the risks associated with new technology development.

From: 4, Outcomes

Cover of An Assessment of the SBIR Program at the Department of Defense
An Assessment of the SBIR Program at the Department of Defense.
National Research Council (US) Committee for Capitalizing on Science, Technology, and Innovation: An Assessment of the Small Business Innovation Research Program, Policy and Global Affairs; Wessner CW, editor.
Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2009.
Copyright © 2009, National Academy of Sciences.

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