New England firm is candidate for Inspiration Grant

A New England technology firm holding patents used to sense explosives is in the running for an Inspiration Grant from the Sustainable Valley Technology Group.

Emitech, one of two finalists for the grant, developed a bomb-sniffing technology for use as a hand-held device or installed in a remote-controlled robotic unit. It could be used to detect land mines or airport security could wand it over passengers and packages

Marina Katayeva and Igor Levitsky, who founded the Fall River, Mass., company in 2002, met with SVTG members last week to discuss how their work could be advanced in Southern Oregon.

"We've been searching for a modern facility and advanced equipment which we can use for development of our sensor elements," he said. "Oregon has a pretty good conditions for development of small businesses."

The iGrant is a competition for researchers, entrepreneurs and technology teams. The winner will have access to the lab environment at Rogue Valley Microdevices, a microelectronics manufacturing facility near the Medford airport. The team will share fabrication and metrology equipment, a first-rate clean room, manufacturing materials, chemicals and common gases, conference room and office space at Rogue Valley Microdevices.

The winner also will receive mentoring and guidance in legal, financial and investment areas. It is valued at $175,000 and includes a $25,000 cash award.

Levitsky, whose credits include post-doctoral chemistry research at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is a chemistry instructor at the University of Rhode Island. He said the explosives detector needs final engineering work before it goes to field testing.

"We are a research and development company," said Katayeva, the company's president. "What we would like to do is license this technology, because the scientific part is practically done, and let somebody else do the manufacturing."

Heather Stafford, SVTG's executive director, said the organization is looking for operations compatible with the laboratory at the Rogue Valley Microdevices plant, where continued development would take place. Rather than completely relocating the firm, Stafford said, a team would be hired to advance the project in the Rogue Valley.

Nena Golubovic of Advanced Microsensors, a Boston-area company that's the second finalist for the grant, will visit the Rogue Valley later this week. The Massachusetts company has developed a patented breast cancer screening sensor for clinical use.

The winner will be announced in November.

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or

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