Baltimore surgical device startup awarded $256K from NSF

BondTrue, a medical device design and development company, won a Small Business Innovation Research grant from the federal government. Here's what led to succcess on the company's second application.

BondTrue's Aimee Martin and Dr. David Zachary Martin.

(Courtesy photo)

Baltimore-based BondTrue was awarded a $256,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for development of its surgical closure device.

The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) award is non-dilutive, meaning that it doesn’t require the startup to exchange equity in the company to receive funding. CEO Aimee Martin said the stamp of approval from the NSF makes this grant a big step towards reaching commercial release, as it will fund live testing at the University of Maryland. Martin said the company is seeking out non-dilutive grants to minimize risk and mature the product before taking it to bigger investors.

“Having the support of the NSF will allow us to attract the right funds and the right investors at the right time,” said Martin. “Using this funding to de-risk the technology before we go out and raise venture capital is our strategy.”

The hand-held, disposable device is meant to standardize the process of surgical closure. The company is aiming to decrease the prevalence of surgical site infections through reduced wound drainage.

“BondTrue captures the natural state of the body before the incision is made,” said Martin. “The idea is that [the surgical closure device ] realigns everything back together like before the surgery was started.”

This was the second time BondTrue applied for the SBIR grant through the NSF. On this round, putting bench test data in the application helped the company win the funding. During the early months of the pandemic when everything shutdown, device inventor Dr. David Zachary Martin, who is Aimee Martin’s husband and cofounder, had time to conduct the tests and critically evaluate the device for mechanical and design flaws, as his work as a plastic surgeon was put on hold.

Aimee Martin said support from Maryland technology agency TEDCO and Rockville-based BioHealth Innovation helped to frame the company’s experiments and testing to make it compelling for the NSF grant. Receiving this Phase 1 grant from NSF also makes BondTrue eligible for an additional grant of up to $1M.

“It’s really exciting to build something with my husband that we feel is important for the market,” said Martin. “It’s potentially going to help a lot of patients and healthcare providers by saving time and cost.”


Donte Kirby is a 2020-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation. -30-
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