USDA will grant $20.2 million to help 34 small businesses move forward with innovative research and development projects to benefit food security, natural resources conservation and other agricultural issues. These competitive grants are made through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, which is coordinated by the Small Business Administration and administered by 11 federal agencies including the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).
"I offer my sincere congratulations to these recipients who have demonstrated that their ideas have strong potential for commercialization and can provide real solutions to tough issues that the food, agriculture and forestry sectors are facing," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "Studies have shown that every dollar invested in agricultural research now returns over $20 to our economy, and that's why USDA has increased our investment in delivering problem-driven and solutions-based science from the farm to the lab to the boardroom."
The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program offers two phases of investment. Phase I invests in feasibility studies of up to $100,000 and Phase II grants of up to $600,000 support project implementation by grantees who successfully completed Phase I. Recipients of today's announcement are all receiving Phase II grants. SBIR funding comes from multiple USDA agencies including NIFA, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Agricultural Research Service, Economic Research Service, National Agricultural Statistics Service and U.S. Forest Service.
Examples of projects that will receive funding include:
-NVE Corporation in Eden Prairie, Minn., will develop a prototype salmonella pathogen detector that will reduce the potential for disease outbreaks and costly food recalls.
-Nano Terra, Inc. in Cambridge, Mass, will develop a cost-competitive, low-toxicity, ammonium-free long-term fire retardant for use in wildfire management that is less toxic to fish and mammals.
-eWind Solutions, LLC, in Wilsonville, Ore, will create a wind energy system for small farmers that is efficient, affordable and easy to use. The system collects the stronger, more reliable winds found at higher altitudes that are inaccessible from wind towers that most small farmers can currently afford.
-Grafted Growers, LLC, in Tucson, Ariz, will improve crop production methods and strategies and promote energy conservation and efficiency by developing a sustainable indoor crop growing system (SIGS). SIGS will produce large numbers of affordable, higher quality vegetable transplants using fewer resources using less land than current greenhouse and field production systems.
Details on all of the SBIR projects announced today are available on NIFA's SBIR webpage.