"They really gave us a lot of ideas and helped us with government funding sources. The ability to land the SBIR grants was a tremendous help. They were a cash cow that has helped sustain us over the years"
Baton Rouge-based Mezzo Technologies makes thermal systems that use micro-manufacturing technology. Their main products include metal heat exchangers, regenerators, high heat flux cooling systems and microfin heat exchangers. Founded in 2000 by two students and a mechanical engineering professor Kevin Kelly, the company immediately tapped into the resources of the LSBDC at its inception. In its early days, Mezzo faced the challenges that any company does when trying to bring a good idea to market: business strategy, funding, and marketing assistance. While in its first few years of business Mezzo mainly focused on research and development. The LSBDC was able to point the company towards additional funding sources and provided expert insight and guidance into the application process for the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. These grants are set aside for small businesses to engage in research and development that has the potential for commercialization. SBIR programs are structured in three phases, the first of which awards up to $150,000 for six months of exploration of technology. For a player that is new to the game, the process of landing an SBIR grant can be a tedious one. "They really gave us a lot of ideas and helped us with government funding sources. The ability to land the SBIR grants was a tremendous help. They were a cash cow that has helped sustain us over the years,” said Kelly. By 2006 Mezzo morphed more from an R&D operation into a commercial enterprise that had viable products to take to market. Kelly left his teaching position at the university in 2007 and assumed the role of Mezzo's president full time. At that time, the company switched to a new technology that allowed it to create lighter and smaller high performance heat exchangers. They eventually landed a contract with the Department of Defense to produce radiators for the HUMVEE and return fuel air coolers for the Joint Strike Fighter. In 2008, Andretti Green Racing started using Mezzo's radiators in the Indy 500. “We're hoping to get more involved in F1 racing in the future. Over the next few years, we’re looking to attack more lucrative markets and for major revenue expansion and to increase our profitability,” said Kelly.