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Education / Federal government / Funding

Why a federal agency gave SmartyPal a booth at CES 2017

The edtech company took to CES with backing from the National Science Foundation.

CEO Keith Gornish (left) and Brian Verdine rep SmartyPal at CES 2017. (Courtesy photo)

A handful of Philly companies were holding down the fort at the Consumer Electronics Show 2017 in Las Vegas last week. Among them was SmartyPal, which landed itself a free corner booth by way of the National Science Foundation.

Here’s how they got there: The federal agency — which gave the company a $150,000 R&D grant back in 2015 — doubled down in 2016 with Phase II of the Small Business Innovation Research grant (worth $750,000, to be rolled out until January 2018). The coveted SBIR cash will be used to further build out the company’s content enhancement technology and data analytics/personalization engine.

SmartyPal then applied for a free booth at the trade show and landed it, alongside 20 other grant recipients.

“It’s startup as far as the eye can see,” CEO Keith Gornish said during a phone interview. “We’re excited to be here representing NSF.”

(Yes, you read “CEO” right: Gornish came to SmartyPal in 2016 to help build up the company’s business strategy. Founder Prasanna Krishnan now wears two other hats: Chairman and Chief Product Officer, with a focus on building the platform itself.)

At CES, Gornish manned the booth alongside Director of Learning Sciences Brian Verdine.

“I think that one of the takeaways from CES is how broad the application and use cases for the SmartyPal technology is,” Gornish said. “We’ve had a lot of conversations that reenforce the opportunity to scale our technology.”

Companies: SmartyPAL / National Science Foundation

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