December 7, 2023

HelioBioSys, Inc. awarded competitive grant from the National Science Foundation


Small Business Technology Transfer Program provides seed funding for R&D

Woodside, CA, April 6, 2023 – HelioBioSys, Inc. was awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grant for nearly $1M to conduct research and development (R&D) on cultivation scale-up and cost-effective purification of UV protective compounds derived from HelioBioSys’s non-GMO cyanobacterial platform.

Cyanobacteria produce compounds (mycosporine like amino acids) that protect them from UVA and UVB radiation and oxidative stress. The goal of this Phase II grant is to purify these compounds at a commercial scale and at a competitive price. Bringing a new class of effective, safe, natural and sustainably derived compounds that can replace chemical and mineral UV filters will benefit public health by reducing skin cancer rates and skin photoaging, as well as reduce negative impacts on marine environments caused by current sunscreen ingredients.

“NSF is proud to support the technology of the future by thinking beyond incremental developments and funding the most creative, impactful ideas across all markets and areas of science and engineering,” said Andrea Belz, Division Director of the Division of Industrial Innovation and Partnerships at NSF. “With the support of our research funds, any deep technology startup or small business can guide basic science into meaningful solutions that address tremendous needs.”

HelioBioSys has received recognition from numerous science bodies and publications.
HelioBioSys has received recognition from numerous science bodies and publications.

“Our Phase I NSF STTR enabled us to demonstrate the scientific feasibility of purifying mycosporine-like amino acids from a complex cell lysate” said Rocco Mancinelli, CEO of HelioBioSys. “Our Phase II work will enable us to scale up our technology and demonstrate the commercial feasibility of bringing these revolutionary molecules into the marketplace.”

America’s Seed Fund powered by the National Science Foundation (NSF) awards $200 million annually to startups and small businesses, transforming scientific discovery into products and services with commercial and societal impact. Startups working across almost all areas of science and technology can receive up to $2 million in non-dilutive funds to support research and development (R&D),helping de-risk technology for commercial success. America’s Seed Fund is congressionally mandated through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. The NSF is an independent federal agency with a budget of about $9.5 billion that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering.

For more information about the National Science Foundation STTR program, visit