Startup Paramium Technologies to scale up business of shaping precision satellite reflectors

Feb. 2, 2023

Company advancing technology invented in the Steward Observatory secures $1M Federal Small Business Innovation Grant

Left to right: Justin Hyatt, Roslyn Norman, and Christian Davila

Left to right: Justin Hyatt, Roslyn Norman, and Christian Davila

Courtesy of Paramium Technologies

Paramium Technologies is a Tucson-based startup that grew out of innovations developed at the University of Arizona James C. Wyant College of Optical Sciences, College of Engineering, and the Steward Observatory associated with the College of Science. The company was recently awarded a grant from the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). After successfully completing the first phase (funded with $250k), Paramium received an additional $1M to build a full-scale commercial production line. With this industry 4.0 manufacturing system, Paramium will supply computer-optimized aluminum dishes for radio astronomy and satellite communication. 

Paramium Technologies can inexpensively produce highly customized curved reflectors. The new precision molding method the university researchers invented allows designers to create custom shapes without relying on expensive machined molds.

University researchers worked with Tech Launch Arizona (TLA), the commercialization arm of the University, to protect the intellectual property, strategize, form Paramium Technologies LLC, and license the technology to the company. In February 2021, Paramium joined the University of Arizona Center for Innovation (UACI), the university’s incubator network, to advance their business by working with staff and mentors through a 27-point roadmap designed for startup success.

Next-generation satellite applications are imperative to the future of digital communications. Satellites are getting smaller and smarter, and the way information is transmitted pushes the limits of allocated radio frequencies. New technologies are required to achieve faster and stronger communications between ground stations and satellites. In order to increase the data transmission rates, satellite suppliers need precision custom reflector shapes that are difficult to manufacture using current technologies.

With this additional funding secured, Paramium Technologies will expand U.S. manufacturing of cost-effective compound curve reflectors for ground stations. This will enable the use of advanced optical configurations designed using state-of-the-art optics software, like the off-axis reflector systems engineered for modern radio telescopes like the Next Generation Very Large Array (ngVLA) and the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) in satellite ground stations. “We are excited to launch this technology that will expand scientific discovery and allow higher data rates for satellite communication, connecting more people to space and across our world,” said UArizona senior research associate and Paramium Technologies co-founder, Justin Hyatt, Ph.D.

“We are now facing a great opportunity to participate in the manufacturing of the reflectors for a major radio astronomy project, and we will do everything it takes to make it possible,” said cofounder Christian Davila-Peralta, Ph.D. The company is preparing the requirements to pursue venture capital funding to expand operations. This type of startup funding and growth brings jobs to Tucson, also known as Optics Valley due to a high concentration of optics companies generated by research at the University of Arizona.

The SBIR grant program is crucial to the success of many startups. In addition to R&D funding, the federal program provides training in key business areas, commercialization assistance, and interaction with other small, innovative companies. This is a big success not only for the startup but for the Arizona entrepreneurial ecosystem. When Arizona-based startups win such awards, it is a signal to government agencies that the region is equipped to support the commercialization of novel technologies.

About Paramium Technologies

Paramium Technologies is based in Tucson, Arizona. The company is working on a flexible manufacturing system to produce cost-effective reflectors for radio telescopes and satellite ground stations. Founded in 2019 by researchers at the University of Arizona, the company's mission is to answer the need for better solutions to connect the Earth with space, using advanced manufacturing methods to produce high-quality optical systems. The company is in the process of scaling up the first industrial-scale reflector manufacturing system targeting the space exploration and satellite communications industries.

About the UA Center for Innovation

​The University of Arizona Center for Innovation (UACI) is a startup incubator network with outposts across the Southern Arizona region and a mission to grow scalable science and technology startup ventures that fuel the Arizona economy. For nearly two decades, the program has directly served over 140 companies and impacted thousands of entrepreneurs. This is done through providing access to people, programming and places that help entrepreneurs take their companies from idea to market. Startups go through a structured program that takes them through a continuum of education provided by mentors, advisors and community collaborators. UACI also provides access to service providers, industry cluster groups, interns and connections to potential customers and strategic partners. Entrepreneurs utilize various physical spaces that include offices, wet and dry labs, meeting rooms, a prototyping center, collaboration areas and the infrastructure to support these spaces. The UACI is part of Tech Parks Arizona, which brings together university, industry and community, creating “interactive ground” to advance technology innovation.

Paul Tumarkin, Assistant Director, Marketing & Communications, Tech Launch Arizona
Jessa Turner, Director of Communications, Tech Parks Arizona