SBIR/STTR Program Director, National Science Foundation

C. Richard “Rick” Schwerdtfeger joined the National Science Foundation (NSF) in August 2016 as a Program Director for the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs, providing $200 M annually to roughly 400 small businesses. Rick oversees a portfolio of approximately 110 small businesses with game-changing technologies across instrumentation and hardware, photonics, internet-of-things and space. Prior to joining NSF, Rick was the CTO and co-founder of the Advanced Renewable Energy Company, a clean-tech and semiconductor equipment company, where he led the technology development and customer deployment of nearly $200 M of equipment in the first four years. Additionally, he was the COO of Pica Solar, a DOE-funded solar cell technologies startup. Rick is an advisory board member of ClearCove Systems, a wastewater and renewable energy company. Rick has able been a Senior Project Scientist at the non-profit Edison Materials Technology Center, a Senior R&D Scientist at Saint Gobain, and the Crystal Growth Group leader at Alpha Spectra. He started his career as a Staff Scientist conducting solar energy research at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Rick has grown some of the largest sapphire, calcium fluoride, sodium iodide, and copper indium diselenide crystals in the world, which have been used to lower costs of technology for energy, lighting, radiation detection and other industrial and photonic applications. Rick has spent his career taking the “art” out of science, and replacing it with good engineering, experimentation and automation to solve challenging problems in the renewable energy, clean water, smart grid and high-tech world. Rick holds a Ph.D. in Materials Science from the Colorado School of Mines, an M.S. in Applied Physics from Pittsburg State University, and a B.S. in Physics and Science Education from the University of Dubuque.