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Highlights: Recipient of 22 SBIR Awards showcases the SBIR program
Founded in 1999 by twin brothers, Robert and Richard Balfour, Balfour Technologies began as a consultancy with expertise in simulation and training. The company’s chief offering was a software program, which they decided to develop themselves rather than use someone else’s product.
“That’s a hard thing to do,” says Rich, Balfour’s president. Indeed, this strategy left the brothers “living from contract to contract over the years … looking for a place to land.” Ultimately, Balfour found a home with the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) research arm, its Science and Technology Directorate (S&T). Its door to this pay dirt: The SBIR Program.
“The SBIR Program is what got us our start,” says Rich. “DHS S&T saw some value in what we were doing. We had Phase I, Phase II, and are in commercialization stages now. Things are starting to take off.”
The numbers agree. In 2006, before its SBIR success started, Balfour was a firm of three with revenue of less than $200,000. Today, its eight employees generate more than $1 million.
Not only have SBIR funds benefitted Balfour; they’ve also dramatically advanced the fields of surveillance situational awareness and emergency response operations. Put simply, Balfour’s SBIR-supported products save lives. For example, SBIR awards allowed the company to visualize an emergency responder tracking system, and to integrate the visualization with emergency responder tracking devices. The company’s claim to fame, fourDscape, takes this experience to a new level by enabling automated situational awareness through a fully integrated, single, four-dimensional landscape.
Recognizing these feats, in 2009 Balfour became the first Resident Research Partner of the Applied Science Foundation for Homeland Security, located in the newly opened Morrelly Homeland Security Center in Bethpage, NY. “None of this would have been possible without the SBIR Program,” says Rich. “It really created opportunities for the company to grow.”
Balfour is the model SBIR recipient, having performed needed government R&D, achieved revolutionary technological innovation, and commercialized this work into deployable products for security personnel, emergency managers, and first responders.