Montana offers a great environment for technology entrepreneurship, with over 350 high-tech companies and growing. The department of computer science cares about helping students engage with the entrepreneurial experiences Montana’s startup culture provides.
Recently, UM CS faculty member Dr. Rob Smith was awarded a $224,000 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the National Science Foundation. This award will fund the employment of two department alumni at Dr. Smith’s company Prime Labs, and opens the potential for a second phase grant that would provide for several more jobs over the next two years. Prime Labs is building software for mass spectrometry that helps scientists analyze more data in less time than standard approaches.
The SBIR is a highly competitive program (<10% fund rate) for early stage R&D in high-risk, high-impact technologies with the goals of fostering innovation and creating businesses and jobs in the United States. Previously, he was awarded an NSF Innovation Corps grant, which funded instruction on a national course for lean startup methodologies. Dr. Smith is enjoying the opportunity he has to train the next generation of student entrepreneurs through the Software Engineering course he teaches.