WASHINGTON, Sept. 7, 2016 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that 76 small businesses around the country will receive $7.4 million in grants to conduct research related to food security, natural resources, and agricultural issues. The grants are made through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, a competitive funding source that is coordinated by the Small Business Administration and administered by 11 federal agencies including the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), to encourage domestic small businesses to engage in high-growth research and development that has the potential for commercialization and could lead to significant public benefit.
“USDA is proud to stand behind America’s small businesses, whose ingenuity and commitment to community is appreciated worldwide,” said Vilsack. “Rural America is finally on the road to recovery after one of the worst economic recessions in our history, and we cannot underestimate the role that small businesses’ innovation has played in bringing jobs back to their hometowns. The Small Business Innovation Research Program is one of many ways that USDA has helped thousands of rural businesses expand on new ideas for the benefit of their own operations and for our society as a whole. ”
Examples of projects that will receive funding today include:
Unmanned Experts, Inc. in Denver, Colo., is receiving a grant today to conduct research to accelerate the adoption of unmanned aircraft systems for better fire and natural resource management, and improved safety for wildland firefighters and aviators.
Foundation Instruments, Inc. in Collierville, Tenn., will use a grant to evaluate the feasibility of a mobile drinking water laboratory to improve water quality and reduce costs at rural water treatment plants. This project will develop a mobile laboratory that can be shared between members of a rural cooperative to provide rural water treatment plants the same access to high-tech, on-site monitoring programs that are available to large metropolitan systems. This will allow rural water treatment plans to optimize their treatment practices, minimize treatment costs, and improve water quality for their customers.
Hazel Technologies, LLC in Skokie, Ill., is working to reduce food waste by developing materials that inhibit ethylene gas, a hormone that plants produce as they age, in a wider variety of plants and later in the supply chain than is typically done currently.
More information on the SBIR projects announced today may be viewed on the NIFA website.