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Innovations emerging from the nation’s small businesses are a major driver of U.S. economic growth and competitiveness. Since 2001, the MSU TechLink Center has been helping companies in the state and region to secure competitive funding for technology research and development (R&D), primarily through the federal government’s $2 billion-per-year Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) programs.

TechLink has helped companies in Montana and the greater region to secure more than 420 R&D awards worth over $250 million, playing a major role in the development of the region’s innovation economy.  TechLink’s staff includes two nationally recognized SBIR experts. Along with expert consultants, they help companies to accomplish the following:

  • Improve the quality of their proposals by providing expert proposal review and other professional support,
  • Team with MSU researchers to improve the quality of both proposals and research,
  • Conduct market research and develop successful commercialization strategies and plans, and
  • Establish strategic alliances with larger businesses to achieve successful commercialization.

Invented at MSU, field-tested bio-cement ready for oil and gas industry

Well Test

Montana Emergent Technologies, a small Butte-based technology company, has worked closely with Montana State University Center for Biofilm Engineering for several years to develop a mineral-producing bacteria technology.  MSU TechLink has helped the company to secure much of the funding needed for this research.

Biomineralization is an innovative technology, developed by MSU, that uses common bacteria and harmless chemicals to plug pore spaces underground and prevent the movement of water.

The biologically-produced calcium carbonate cement can be used to seal leaking wellbores at oil production sites so that methane is not released to the atmosphere or to increase petroleum yields from depleted oilfields. 

“We are excited to work with MSU to bring their technology to the marketplace to benefit the environment and help the Montana economy,” said Randy Hiebert, MET’s vice president and chemical engineer. “We are currently in negotiations with several energy companies for implementation of biomineralization.”

The Butte-based startup was able to further develop applications for the bio-cement after receiving Phase I, Phase II, and Phase IIB Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) funding from the Department of Energy.

The MSU Center for Biofilm Engineering’s Dr. Robin Gerlach is acting as the principal investigator on the project with support from Drs. Adrienne Phillips and Al Cunningham. MSU TechLink’s staff assisted the company with its STTR proposals and planning for commercialization.