OMAHA - On Monday, June 15, the U.S. Small Business Administration will honor Lincoln-based LI-COR Biosciences as one of less than two dozen businesses to earn the 2015 Tibbetts Award in a special awards ceremony taking pace in Washington, D.C.
The Tibbetts Award, which is given to organizations or individual who excel in utilizing Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) or Small Business Technology Transfer (SBTT) programs, is was named for the late Roland Tibbetts, widely accredited as being the "father" of the two programs.
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, which collectively supported more than $2.5 billion in federal research and development funding in fiscal year 2014.
LI-COR is a client of the Nebraska Business Development Center (NBDC), a department within the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) College of Business Administration, which provides assistance to small companies across the state.
Founded more than 40 years ago, LI-COR Biosciences is a global leader in developing and marketing innovative, high quality instrument systems used in the fields of biological and environmental sciences, climatology, molecular biology and translational research.
During the past three years, LI-COR has collaborated with the Nebraska Business Development Center (NBDC) technology commercialization team by giving presentations at SBIR/STTR events, actively participating in the SBIR/STTR advisory board and by acting as an advocate for technology commercialization in the state.
In addition, LI-COR's leadership has mentored other small businesses interested in technology commercialization and SBIR/STTR funding
"We live by the idea that it takes a community to help build a company," says Senior Executive Vice President Greg Biggs, whose father, Bill, founded the company and serves as president and CEO. "The NBDC has been a resource for questions we don't have the answers to. We've utilized NBDC resources in a number of ways, from workshops and seminars to relationship-building."
LI-COR develops, designs, manufactures and distributes products to supplement an existing line of light sensors, gas analyzers and imaging systems. The company has six buildings on its 24-acre Superior Street campus and employs more than 330 people at the Lincoln headquarters and subsidiaries in Bad Homburg, Germany and Cambridge, UK.
The company started in a machine shop in 1971 with Bill and Elaine Biggs and a part-time worker. In 1973, the four full-time employees and Bill Biggs moved into a rented building at 4630 Hartley Street while a new building was being built at LI-COR's current location at 44th and Superior Streets.
"The genesis of our company began with my father working on a project with the university (of Nebraska) to utilize sorghum to solve food needs," Biggs says. "We still work today to help the world feed people."
In the early 1980's, LI-COR developed the first commercially viable Portable Photosynthesis System. For the first time, this allowed scientists to see simultaneous conductance and photosynthetic values in the field. Today, the successor to this instrument is now the most successful, most referenced photosynthesis system in the world.
The explosive growth in biotechnology research inspired LI COR's early endeavors into DNA sequencing technology. LI-COR developed a DNA sequencer that was instrumental in cataloguing the human genome. LI-COR's patented infrared dye technology incorporated into its biotechnology instruments is used worldwide for drug discovery and protein analysis.
NBDC serves businesses at every stage of development through offices state-wide in Nebraska with a variety of services, including market research, technology commercialization, access to capital, government procurement assistance, lean manufacturing, professional and organizational training and sustainability.
About the University of Nebraska at Omaha
Located in one of America’s best cities to live, work and learn, the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) is Nebraska’s premier metropolitan university. With more than 15,000 students enrolled in 200-plus programs of study, UNO is recognized nationally for its online education, graduate education, military friendliness and community engagement efforts. Founded in 1908, UNO has served learners of all backgrounds for more than 100 years and is dedicated to another century of excellence both in the classroom and in the community.