USDA Invests $21.6M in Small Business-Led Innovations

WASHINGTON, Nov. 16, 2022 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Chief Scientist Chavonda Jacobs-Young today announced an investment of $21.6 million in scientific research for small businesses to further develop transformative agricultural solutions.

“Small businesses, particularly rural and agricultural enterprises, play a vital role in the American economy. They embody the entrepreneurial spirit that America was built upon,” said Jacobs-Young, who is also USDA’s Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics. “This latest investment strengthens federal research and development support for small businesses, including women- and minority-owned businesses, and enhances USDA’s efforts to rapidly scale innovation across the food supply chain.”

This investment is part of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s (NIFA) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program that targets early-stage private-sector projects. Grant funding will support 34 research projects that propose innovative and disruptive solutions on topics ranging from food science and nutrition to natural resources conservation.

“The projects we’re supporting demonstrate scientific originality, technical feasibility and strong commercial potential,” said Acting NIFA Director Dr. Dionne Toombs. “With this research, our small business partners are helping solve some of our most vexing agricultural problems.”

The grants announced today are supporting businesses across the country, from Washington to New York. Examples of funded projects include:

  • Inventherm of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is developing commercial soft serve ice cream and slush machines that use a novel, more cost-efficient sanitizing process. Improperly cleaned machines can be a source of contamination and foodborne illnesses. The new process eliminates contamination and will save machine owners thousands of dollars annually. This Phase II funding will allow an advanced prototype to be built and brought to the commercial market.
  • Hangar Alpha LLC of New York, New York, has developed real-time predictive tools for fire behavior. These tools will help with cost-saving planning and prevention measures, and proper allocation of resources in real time. This funding will allow the company to rapidly develop and commercially produce predictive fire analytics for the public sector and expand into the tech-forward private sector.
  • Mirtech Inc. of North Brunswick, New Jersey, has developed a system that will provide new market opportunities to the pear industry. The system will provide ready-to-eat fruits at the retail level and will add 10 to 12 days of shelf life—benefitting both retailers and consumers.

View the complete list of the 34 funded Small Business Innovation Research projects:

  • Forests and Related Resources (2 awards, $1,299,734)
  • Plant Production and Protection (Biology) (1 award, $650,000)
  • Animal Production and Protections (3 awards, $1,899,999)
  • Conservation of Natural Resources (5 awards, $3,249,849)
  • Food Science and Nutrition (5 awards, $3,192,035)
  • Rural and Community Development (4 awards, $2,498,235)
  • Aquaculture (3 awards, $1,889,445)
  • Biofuels and Biobased Products (3 awards, $1,950,000)
  • Small and Mid-Size Farms (4 awards, $2,499,790)
  • Plant Production and Protection (Engineering) (4 awards, $2,549,665)

NIFA invests in and advances agricultural research, education and Extension across the nation to make transformative discoveries that solve societal challenges. NIFA supports initiatives that ensure the long-term viability of agriculture and applies an integrated approach to ensure that groundbreaking discoveries in agriculture-related sciences and technologies reach the people who can put them into practice. In FY 2022, NIFA’s total investment was $2.2 billion.

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.

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USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.

https://www.usda.gov/media/press-releases/2022/11/16/usda-invests-216m-small-business-led-innovations