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NFW Flips Travel Grant on Its Head

We recently awarded another Startup GP Travel Grant, and we followed up with a few of those that received funding in the past.

Natural Fiber Welding

We want to extend a congratulations to the team at Natural Fiber Welding for receiving a Travel Grant this week! However, unlike those that received a Travel Grant in the past to take a trip somewhere else, Natural Fiber Welding is planning to fly a potential supplier from North Carolina to Peoria. The team hopes to gain advice and equipment solutions from an industry expert that may be able to help Natural Fiber Welding take a major step from a research company to a market-ready company that is on the path to scale quickly.

NFW has flipped our Travel Grant in its head, which we think is cool for a number of reasons:

  1. it’s a substantial business development opportunity for NFW, so it’s worthy of the Travel Grant
  2. it’s an example of a regional startup using our resources creatively to meet their needs
  3. some of the funds will go back into our region’s hospitality industry

About Natural Fiber Welding:

NFW is a disruptive chemistry and technology company poised to offer sustainable alternatives to nonrenewable plastics and other resource intensive materials by producing high value materials from low cost, highly functional naturally occurring fibers (i.e., cotton, silk, hemp, wood). By working with nature-based fibrous materials, our scientists and engineers are creating new opportunities to enhance and leverage the most plentiful and renewable resources on the planet for applications traditionally associated with synthetic materials. The company is focusing first on commercializing cotton yarns and textiles. Yarns treated with our processes have substantially new properties that allow high performance cotton-based products that were not possible before.

Unit Trac

Unit Trac, a self storage management software company based in Morton, flew to a Self Storage Association conference in Maine several months ago where the company was the featured speaker. They wanted to gain visibility for the company in the Northeastern market, but that wasn’t the only thing Unit Trac accomplished. Now, they’ve built relationships with the conference’s board of directors, gained valuable feedback from potential customers, and acquired a new customer!

The team plans to participate in the Wisconsin and Michigan Self Storage Association conferences this fall, and they hope to visit the Inside Self Storage international expo in the future.

Jillian Smallenberger, above, giving a presentation about Unit Trac at the conference.

Fugate Drums

The team at Fugate Inc. is dedicated to sculpting the perfect sound, and their products include patented drums, keyboard percussion, woodwind instruments, and more. The staff took their trip all the way to China to explore new business opportunities, and came back with a new product line, a blossoming relationship with a new supplier overseas, and they were even able to create one part-time job! Wow! Fugate Inc. has completely evolved its business model, and is now a full line manufacturing company with the capability to both import and export product.

“The results of this trip are still unfolding,” Brett Fugate, founder of Fugate Inc., explained. “We have some innovative products on the drawing board, but they will take time to develop, so stay tuned.”

Want to apply?

Our Startup GP Travel Grants are for those that need to travel in order to take the next step in growing their business. If you have a startup company in need of funding for a trip, you can check out the requirements and apply here.

Questions? Contact Sarah at

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