A nearly $225,000 grant provided by the National Science Foundation (NSF) will give The Bee Corp a new path to grow their research. While the Series A round of funding the company closed last September supports their operations and other growth needs, this Phase I grant focuses specifically on using data science to build research around their products.
“This grant gives more flexibility regarding research we’ve wanted to look into,” said Wyatt Wells, chief marketing officer for The Bee Corp. “It opens some new doors for us.”
This grant is the culmination of several years of work, starting at the company’s founding in 2016. “From the beginning of The Bee Corp, we looked for grants and other sources of non-diluted funding,” said Wyatt. “We’ve submitted applications everywhere and gotten feedback on what we submit. We’ve been growing into a company worth funding.”
WIth NSF’s support, The Bee Corp gains research funding that doesn’t require them to give up company equity, a significant decision point for the company in pursuing the grant. The company also receives reputational benefits. “This means that NSF vouches for our research ethic,” Wyatt said. NSF will stay involved throughout the grant’s term, monitoring progress and providing mentorship resources.
The funding was put to immediate use in hiring the first non-founder full-time employee of The Bee Corp. Gretchen Riggs joins the team as a data scientist to administer the research component of the company’s work that the grant supports. Gretchen lives in Denver, with the company connecting with her through Galvanize, a program in Colorado similar to a coding camp to train data scientists. “Gretchen has a 17 year career as a geophysicist,” Wyatt said. “But she reached a point in her career where she decided to pivot.” She joins the team as a remote worker but will visit onsite regularly as the grant unfolds.
Based in Bloomington, Ind., The Bee Corp also continues its strong partnership with Indiana University through this funding cycle. “IU has been extremely supportive of us since the start of the company,” said Wyatt. “We’ve connected with their data science department, which is closer to what we do operationally.” Several of the department’s students support The Bee Corp as interns to process and analyze research data the company produces.
The grant cycle will last throughout 2018, and The Bee Corp is eager to work on their research and then consider applying for a larger Phase II grant for 2019 to commercialize the research as a product.