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From Start-up to Commercialization: The Transformation of Silverside Detectors

By Kathie Mahoney, Marketing and Administration Director, MassMEP

Physicist and founder Andrew Inglis launched Silverside Detectors as a post-doc at Boston University. He teamed up with co-founder Sarah Haig in 2013 to commercialize high-efficiency nuclear radiation detectors. A marriage of front-line physics research and best-practice manufacturing techniques, Silverside adapts technology from multiple industries to make robust and low-cost radiation sensors. In 2015, the start-up company moved to Greentown Labs, where it continued to build and test prototypes. In 2016, Silverside Detectors was ready to begin manufacturing and commercializing its products, so they moved to a manufacturing facility in Cambridge, MA. Their goal is to be the number one supplier of neutron sensors and a leader in networked radiation detection.

Situation: Silverside Detectors had trouble finding qualified suppliers to bring their product from idea to commercialization. They also needed a better understanding of which markets to target. At a national level, there is a need to have a much larger footprint of nuclear detectors covering transit networks, storage sites, borders, airports, high-value targets and so on. As a company, Silverside Detectors knew it could contribute to closing this gap.  

Solution: MassMEP experts were brought in to help Silverside Detectors move forward in a timely manner. They provided mentoring, quality contacts, and quick access to a viable supply chain.

Transformation Impacts
Increased Jobs Doubled employee size
Increased/Retained Sales 200% increase in sales
New Markets Able to bid on government projects, including homeland security and defense markets

Through MassMEP's expert-in-residence program at Greentown Labs, which was funded by a grant from MassDevelopment, Silverside Detectors met MassMEP Growth and Innovation Director Peter Russo. Peter’s work with Silverside Detectors included discussion and connections to local manufacturers on material selection, design for manufacturing, assembly, PCB design and production, quality controls, supply chain selection, and partnering with local resources to access quick turnaround for expansion. In addition to the resource connections, several employees from Silverside attended a Principles of Lean Manufacturing event, a course that provides the basis for building a Lean manufacturing facility.

While Silverside was a member of Greentown Labs, the U.S. Secretary of Commerce, Penny Pritzker, along with Carroll Thomas, visited Greentown Labs. During the visit, co-founder Sarah met the Secretary’s chief of staff. When Sarah was having difficulty fully understanding export regulations, she contacted the Secretary’s office and the Secretary’s office took the time to walk Sarah through the process. As a result, Silverside Detectors was able to ship prototypes to Canada for testing.

 After the move to their own manufacturing facility in Cambridge, Peter introduced Sarah and Andrew to Tom Andrellos, MassMEP’s business growth advisor. With funding assistance from an Office of Economic Adjustment grant through MassDevelopment, Tom worked with Silverside Detectors on a Technology Driven Market Intelligence (TDMI) project. TDMI is a specific kind of market intelligence that focuses on the market benefits a technology enables in a product. Based on the TDMI, Silverside gained a more detailed view of markets outside of government defense and homeland security. As a result, they made contacts that down the road may develop into a commercial market opportunity.

What does the future look like for Silverside Detectors? The next generation will be to sell neutron detectors to companies that integrate larger systems for a broad range of security and other commercial applications.

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