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Tough Tech Today with Meyen and Miller

Technology Podcasts

This is the premiere show featuring trailblazers who are building technologies today to solve tomorrow's toughest challenges.

This is the premiere show featuring trailblazers who are building technologies today to solve tomorrow's toughest challenges.


United States


This is the premiere show featuring trailblazers who are building technologies today to solve tomorrow's toughest challenges.






M12 bets big on the digital frontier with Matt Goldstein

Digitization of the physical world brings new synergies and expanding attack surfaces – so it is key to invest in those who defend us. ————— Overview: Probing the cybersecurity of 3D printing, scaling the digital transformation of manufacturing, and developing quantum-safe encryption for the next evolution of the Internet, Matt Goldstein, Managing Director at M12, Microsoft’s Venture Fund, shares with us the criticality of investing in companies exploring the frontiers of cybersecurity...


Synthesizing High-Tech Food is TOUGH, featuring Kate Krueger of Helikon

In one sentence: “Synthesizing” and “food” are uncommon word pairings, but the engineered dishes they serve may be an appetizing feast for the senses. Overview: Climate change, a growing global population, and maturation of new biotechnologies are driving the motivation for – and means of – producing more food. Engineering is improving traditional agricultural means for food production, yet, in our conversation with Kate Krueger of Helikon, emerging synthesization techniques are bringing...


Exposing cancer with bioengineering, featuring Cyriac Roeding of Earli

In one sentence: We can make cancer cells tell us exactly where they are. ————— Overview: Consumer internet entrepreneurs lack many of the skills for the life sciences revolution – or do they? Cyriac Roeding, CEO and co-founder of Earli, shows us what his team of bioengineers are accomplishing by applying fast-learning software development discipline to hard life science problems. Earli’s mouse and canine models are producing exciting results inducing cancer cells to expose their...


Jmill goes glamping while Forrest lands on Mars and launches a new company.

Just a quick Tough Tech Today update as we take a bye week and prepare for our guest in two weeks.


Google Maps for gold? AI-Assisted Mine Prospecting is Tough!

In one sentence: When the frontiers of geology overlap with the frontlines of contested regions, international collaborations help protect minerals core to our civilization. ————— Overview: There’s a world of minerals in every electronic device. Anything that cannot be grown must be mined, Emily King tells us. A global mining expert and founder of Prospector Portal, Emily shares stories and advancements in the finding, protecting, and stewarding of minerals. From digitizing and...


Unlocking new mRNA Treatments with Jake Becraft, CEO of Strand Therapeutics

In one sentence: Unlocking new mRNA treatments will save lives, but it's not as simple as that. ————— Overview ————— Jake Becraft of Strand Therapeutics is an expert in designing and programming mRNA, critical strands of genetic material that provide instructions for making proteins. As one suite of tools in the emerging synthetic biology toolkit, mRNA is a twenty-first century harbinger of life. Yet, with all powerful tools, there are risks of accidental or intentional misuse. It is...


Freedom Without Fear - Making injections effortless with autoinjector tech to saves lives, with Conor Cullinane of Pirouette Medical

In one sentence: A needle shaped like a hockey puck is a ‘revolutionary’ medical device that can deliver epinephrine during a severe allergic reaction on Earth or in space. ————— Overview ————— EpiPens and other emergency auto-injectors have changed little for decades, though there are known limitations in their accidental (mis)use. Conor Cullinane, co-founder of Pirouette Medical, shows us his team’s surprisingly non-needlelike auto-injector that is shaped smooth, flat, and round, and...


Tough Tech Today in 2020 and Beyond (Year in Review)

A chat to review the first year of Tough Tech Today.


$2.5B Exit Entrepreneur, Sujal Patel, is Creating a Proteomics Startup to Upgrade Human Health

In one sentence... Human health upgrades may be unlocked by a data storage expert focused on probing the proteome. Overview: It’s not everyday that one hears about the crucial relationship between digital data storage and biology, yet this is core to Sujal Patel’s work leading Nautilus Biotechnology. By any measure already an accomplished tech entrepreneur, Sujal’s experience building Isilon Systems (acquired by EMC for $2.5 billion) became a perfect, if non-obvious, ingredient for...


A moon rover startup gears up for launch, featuring Justin Cyrus of Lunar Outpost

In one sentence... Living on the Moon requires infrastructure that Justin Cyrus of Lunar Outpost knows can be helpful here on Earth. Overview Earth’s moon is viewed as the upcoming base of operations for humanity’s further exploration of the cosmos. Justin Cyrus, founder of Lunar Outpost, shares what it is like building a suite of technologies that not only meet space objectives, but also address terrestrial challenges. Incredible initiatives are underway to develop our moon into a...


When tough tech and dual-use ventures collide, with the U.S. Air Force Banshee Program

Banshees of the United States Air Force hunt for mission-enhancing technologies. The world's largest startup accelerator, MassChallenge, teamed up with the Air Force Labs to establish the Banshees training program. Members are U.S. Department of Defense acquisitions officers who are learning how to find tough tech and nurture dual-use ventures. Such startups are jointly serving the private commercial sector and the government as clients. Forrest and jmill discuss tech commercialization...


Bringing heroes home, featuring Caleb Carr of Vita Inclinata

In one sentence... A helicopter rescue mission gone awry fuels this man’s mission to bring heroes home safely with drones built for aircraft load stabilization. Overview As a Black Hawk helicopter’s rotors whop-whop-whopped overhead in their fight for command of the winds amid a stormy – and ultimately failed – rescue mission, a teenage Caleb Carr had a life-shaping experience that led him, many years later, to launch Vita Inclinata, a mission-focused company pioneering aerial load...


Bootstrapping mass spectrometry, featuring Mazdak Taghioskoui of Trace Matters

He built a mass spectrometer from scratch and reinvented it in the process! Bearing a smile, Mazdak “Maz” Taghioskoui says he immigrated to the United States from Iran for a good education and same-day shipping, two key features that have supported his focus on building – from scratch – a sophisticated next-generation analytical tool: the Trace Matters SPion mass spectrometer. Maz is the Founder and CEO/CTO of Trace Matters, and we sat down with him for show-and-tell to discuss how he and...


Tough Tech Venture Capital and America's Innovation Engine with Orin Hoffman

While aboard a plane nosediving into Baghdad, one may be forgiven for pondering how one’s life path could lead from vacuum cleaners to minesweeping robots. Yet, not only does Orin Hoffman, of MIT’s The Engine venture capital firm, share this humbling connection, but also how it advances an overarching narrative of the United States national industrial innovation base, VCs, and the crucial roles served by tough tech entrepreneurs. Public-private partnerships may not be what immediately comes...


Venturing into federal tech, featuring Will Dickson and Trinity Torres of FedTech

What happens to the ideas generated across the United States federal government’s research initiatives? Will Dickson and Trinity Torres walk us through the pathways of taxpayer-funded technological advancements and opportunities for a diverse pool of private citizens-entrepreneurs to find commercial success licensing patents owned by the U.S. government. The United States government generates vast amounts of intellectual property across its many research organizations, national...


Launching dual-use ventures, featuring Katy Person of the MIT Innovation Initiative

Dual-use ventures – tough tech startups pursuing commercial relationships with the private sector and federal government, are a unique class of companies with whom Kathryn "Katy" Person, of the MIT Innovation Initiative, works daily. "[Working with the United States government, such as the Department of Defense,] is not for everyone and not for every business. It depends on whether you come in mission-focused... and it depends on your business strategy," says Katy. As a military veteran...


Commercializing Satellite Propulsion, featuring Louis Perna

No longer the domain of strictly nation-states, 'new space' is undergoing a wave of commercialization and growth. Two key engineering challenges, observed Louis Perna, are in-space communications and propulsion. He and his co-founder, Natalya Bailey, launched Accion Systems to provide cost-effective electrospray propulsion for satellites. While the complexities of space travel are something that many members of society may recognize, less obvious may be the terrestrial challenges...


Storing your data in DNA, with James Banal

The building blocks of life, deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), can be used for computational advantage, posits Dr. James Banal, postdoctoral research associate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Biological Engineering, in the Bathe Lab. “I work on the wackiest things in computing and storage right now, which is quantum computing and DNA data storage,” says James. From ultra-dense, ultra-long storage of digital data (think: storing exabytes for fifty years) to...