Vertx Partners helps our nation solve pressing national security challenges through partnership with America’s innovators
Vertx is a company that empowers connection. Our mission is to disrupt the status quo by lowering the bar of entry into federal contracting for pioneering solutions to breakthrough technology.
We do this by cultivating relationships and partnerships built on trust and expertise while connecting small businesses to like-minded individuals to generate innovative solutions within our growing network.
Our Senior Leadership
Retired Air Force Colonel Sean Frisbee founded Vertx Partners in 2021 to solve problems for the U.S. Air Force while bettering the economy of West Virginia. A former President & CEO of the WVU Alumni Association and once the Systems Program Director for the Pentagon’s F-22 Raptor program, Sean brings a veritable wealth of insider knowledge and cooperative know-how to Vertx’s mission to transform WV into a powerhouse for the national defense industry.
VP of External Relations
Scott Rotruck has a long history of building connections in the Mountain State. His resumé includes serving as Vice President of Chesapeake Energy, funding innovation as an individual Angel Investor, and now serving on boards throughout the state of West Virginia. Scott brings an invaluable level of collaboration to Vertx’s repertoire of services and assists in securing contracts for clients through his breadth of experience.
VP of Operations
Mary Warner Cook joined Vertx Partners in September of 2021, bringing to the team decades of experience and deep connections in the West Virginia business community. With an MBA from University College Dublin in Ireland and a bachelor’s in urban planning from the University of Cincinnati, Mary brings a multitude of skills in business development, entrepreneur support, project management, marketing, and communications.
Vertx Team Members
Retired Air Force Acquisition Officer Jeff Grusy of Decorah, Iowa, joins the Vertx Partners team as its Senior Consultant. A specialist in SBIR federal contracts, Jeff’s 21+ years in the USAF and experience as a business owner place him at the intersection of public and private enterprise Vertx centers on. Jeff continues his success in business development by joining the Vertx Partners team.
Senior Tech Transition Executive
A native of West Virginia and a WVU graduate in Computer Science, Randy’s work has contributed massively to projects and project development processes across NASA, the U.S. Department of Defense, and the Department of Energy. His connections and accrued knowledge of internal contracting processes ensure he will be a powerful asset as a consultant for Vertx Partners.
Frequently Asked Questions
We get a lot of questions about how Vertx Partners connects companies and breaks barriers to federal funding – check out our FAQ page for additional information or reach out to our team to learn more about how Vertx can help your efforts.
What is Vertx Partners?
Vertx Partners is a novel effort to tap into previously overlooked Research & Development (R&D) resources in West Virginia and the greater Appalachian Region. We aim to connect these resources with the entities that could best benefit from their services and technology. We are also dedicated to providing advice for companies seeking entry into the world of federal contracting, which makes education a high priority for us. You can learn more about Vertx’s mission here.
What does Vertx do?
Vertx Partners is a brand that empowers connection. We’re eager to network on both small and large scales to create innovation within unconventional relationships. We’re disrupting the status quo by lowering the bar of entry into federal contracting through our educational and counseling efforts.
Why was Vertx founded?
Vertx was founded to revolutionize Research & Development initiatives in Appalachia. With roots in West Virginia, our team is working to break down the barriers small businesses face when trying to work with the federal government. An overarching goal for Vertx is to see a resurgence in R&D clusters in West Virginia and Appalachia as a whole.
Where is Vertx located?
Vertx Partners is based in Morgantown, West Virginia, but has team members located throughout the United States.
Who started Vertx?
Vertx Partners was founded by Ret. Colonel Sean Frisbee, whose previous work in the U.S. Air Force and Research & Development (R&D) at large has given him a clear vision for the desired future of his home state and beyond.
What is Vertx’s mission?
To help our nation solve its most pressing national security challenges through partnership and connection with America’s innovators.
Is there a place to ask questions that aren’t on the FAQ page?
Not seeing an answer to your question here? Feel free to Contact Us.
What sets Vertx apart from other companies?
Vertx Partners bridges gaps between small businesses, research institutions, non-profit enterprises, and the federal government without charging for our services. We’re here to facilitate innovation and solve the latest challenges the U.S. Air Force faces.
We specifically serve fellow Appalachians who are ready to see this often-neglected region transform into the powerhouse of enterprise and ingenuity it once was.
Working with Vertx
How do I work with Vertx?
Like what we’re doing here? Get in touch with us to see what opportunities await.
What businesses is Vertx looking for?
Vertx is looking for enterprising businesses and entities in Appalachia whose Research & Development efforts have potential applications in the U.S. Air Force and other national security initiatives.
What products does Vertx need?
Vertx works with businesses that have products in a variety of industries. Think your product has potential? Contact us and we can assess it for you; in the meantime, take a look at our spotlighting of AmeriCarbon which found unconventional use for their products. Vertx’s services are provided free of charge.
Who can work with Vertx?
We are primarily searching for non-traditional entities without pre-existing ties to the national security industry who are based in or have a connection to Appalachia.
How does Vertx work?
Our four-step process involves discovering new partners, identifying funding opportunities, matching partners with businesses or resources, and providing ongoing support for our clients. You can see each stage of our process here.
How big does my company have to be to work with Vertx?
Vertx works with businesses and innovators of all sizes. While there are limits on business size for Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs, Vertx can find opportunities for businesses large and small.
Is there a size limit on the companies Vertx works with?
No. We are interested in learning more about your work if you’re working on services or technologies that could help the Department of Defense – even if you’ve never worked in Defense before.
What services does Vertx provide?
Vertx is primarily dedicated to lowering the high bar of entry into the Research and Development (R&D) industry – many first-time applicants are discouraged by the convoluted process, and we seek to aid those who need support. We do this through education efforts, matchmaking services, consulting, etc.
What new innovations is Vertx looking for?
Vertx is partnered with Parallax Advanced Research and the U.S. Air Force to discover and implement new technologies benefiting the national security industry, supply chains, small businesses, research institutions, and more.
How much does Vertx charge?
Vertx’s services are entirely free; our team is committed to finding a match for your needs free of charge.
Does Vertx offer grants to companies?
Vertx does not fund your business directly. Vertx participates in the federal Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)/Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program, which allocates grants to awardees who offer promising projects. Vertx is dedicated to assisting clients in increasing their chances of being selected.
How much do the grants offer?
Grant totals vary, but Phase I SBIR/STTR programs fund $50,000-$250,000 and Phase II funds $750,000. The SBIR/STTR programs do not fund Phase III, but some federal agencies may allocate further funds for commercialization.
Getting in Touch
How do I get in touch with Vertx?
You can get in touch with us here!
When will you get back to us if we reach out?
Vertx is committed to punctual service, and we’ll have one of our partners reach out to you ASAP.
Can I contact you to ask questions?
Of course! Don’t see an answer on this page or need clarification? Contact us and we’ll be in touch.
Education (Learning more about working in Research and Development)
What is aa SBIR grant?
A Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant is a federal grant designed to increase private sector investment and commercialization of technology funded through federal Research & Development (R&D) means. You can find more information at sbir.gov.
What is aa STTR grant?
A Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grant is a federal grant designed to facilitate the transfer of federally funded technology into the private sector. You can find more information at sbir.gov or Vertx’s own STTR guide.
Am I eligible to participate in the SBIR/STTR programs?
The basic eligibility requirements for participating in the SBIR/STTR programs are as follows:
1. You are a small business with 500 or fewer employees.
2. Your small business must be for-profit.
3. Your small business must be predominately U.S.-owned; that means that 51% or greater ownership belongs to U.S. citizens and/or permanent resident aliens.
Are there other requirements for participating in the SBIR/STTR programs?
In addition to the above criteria, you must also designate a Principal Investigator (PI) for the project who is primarily employed by the agency and has credible education, work, and project management experience. Under the STTR program, the PI may also be primarily employed by your chosen Research Institution. More information on the role of the PI and other requirements can be found at sbir.gov.
Can I make use of a subcontractor under the SBIR program?
In a Phase I SBIR program, up to 33% of the research can be performed by a subcontractor. The subcontractor does not have to be based in the U.S., but the research must be conducted there.
Can I make use of subcontractors under the STTR program?
In Phase I and II STTR projects, at least 30% of the research must be performed by a non-profit Research Institution (RI), usually a university or federal laboratory. That RI must be based in the U.S.
Should I apply for a SBIR or STTR? What are the differences?
Deciding which program to apply for depends on how you want to organize your project. The STTR program requires that you partner with a Research Institution (RI) and focuses on a 3-step process whereby technology is transferred from the RI to the small business and finally to the marketplace. Up to 60% of the research can be sub-contracted under the STTR program compared to just 33% during the SBIR Phase I (though this jumps to 50% in Phase II).