The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced today an investment of over $12.5 million in the USDA Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. These Phase I awards will support 76 small businesses researching to address critical scientific challenges and opportunities in agriculture.
Commitment to Small Businesses and Innovation
“The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to investing, growing, and supporting small businesses through increased market opportunities that also strengthen the food system nationally and locally,” said Chief Scientist and Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young.
The awards include the first round of USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)-funded STTR awards, supporting 15 businesses in 12 states with a $2.5 million investment. Additionally, NIFA is investing $9.9 million in 61 SBIR projects.
Bridging Science and Public Availability
“Small businesses play a key role in driving innovation in the food and agriculture sectors,” said USDA NIFA Director Dr. Manjit K. Misra. “By partnering with research institutions, these small businesses are bridging an important gap between where science is conducted and how it is made available to the public.”
Focus on Diversity and Economic Development
Among the awards, 20 go to minority- or woman-owned small businesses, and 22 are in HUBZones, urban or rural communities in economically distressed areas.
Some funded businesses include:
- Evergreen Aquatics: Improving the viability of burbot, a freshwater fish, as a new U.S. aquaculture species.
- Home Grown Fuels: Using plants to clean up contamination from “forever chemicals.”
- Padma Agrobotics: Developing an automated robotic harvester for specialty crops.
- Shende LLC: Creating a heat transfer fluid system that converts solar energy into thermal energy for an energy-efficient greenhouse.
Fiscal Year 2022 Technology Transfer Annual Report
USDA also released its Fiscal Year 2022 Technology Transfer Annual Report, showcasing 156 new inventions, 79 patent applications, 38 newly issued patents, and 653 licenses. Outcomes include sustainable prescription eyeglass lenses, USDA-certified biobased personal care ingredients, a novel Fire Weather Observation Sensor system, and the release of six new conservation plants.
The USDA’s investment in the SBIR and STTR programs reflects a solid commitment to fostering innovation, supporting small businesses, and enhancing the U.S. agriculture sector’s global competitiveness. These investments align with the newly released USDA Science and Research Strategy, 2023-2026: Cultivating Scientific Innovation, detailing how science and technology can shape a more prosperous, profitable, and sustainable future for U.S. agriculture and forestry.
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Note: This article is based on publicly available information and is intended for informational purposes only. It does not constitute financial or investment advice.