National Science Foundation - Program Director, SBIR Program
Dr. Richard “Rick” Schwerdtfeger has more than 25 years of experience as a scientist and entrepreneur. His focus has been on the development and commercialization of energy, semiconductor, smart grid and clean water technologies. Since the summer of 2016, Schwerdtfeger has supported innovative startups as a Program Director at the National Science Foundation’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.
Prior to becoming a NSF Program Director, he was the CTO and co-founder of ARC Energy, a semiconductor equipment company, the COO of Pica Solar, an Arkansas solar cell technology company, and an advisory board member of ClearCove Systems, a clean water technology company. Before those entrepreneurial challenges, he was a Senior R&D Scientist at Saint Gobain, group manager at Alpha Spectra, and he started his career as a scientist at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
Schwerdtfeger has produced some of the largest and highest quality semiconductor, scintillator, and optical crystals in the world. He has invented novel processes like CHES® which have reduce costs of materials enabling mass industry shifts to lower cost materials. He personally designed new equipment, facilities, and processes to improve the status quo of his industry. His philosophy of using data collection and analysis to solve any problem, combined with his deep understanding of the critical relationships between man, machine, materials, processes, and facilities has allowed him to solve problems that have plagued industries for decades.
Dr. Schwerdtfeger is passionate about helping to solve the world’s energy, environmental, and technical challenges in an economically beneficial manner.