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NIFA Invests Nearly $18M for Small Business-Led Innovations

KANSAS CITY, Mo., April 13, 2022 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today announced that it is doubling down on its small business innovation investments, extending almost $18 million in research funds to further develop transformative agricultural solutions.

NIFA’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program funds these research projects, each of which proposes an innovative or disruptive solution across nine topic areas ranging from food science and nutrition to conservation of natural resources. The program targets early-stage projects in the private sector poised to deliver significant public benefits and strengthens the role of federal research and development in support of small businesses, many of which are owned by women or historically underserved populations.

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

About a quarter of the 28 grants announced today are going to woman- or minority-owned businesses across the country, from Hawaii to Michigan to Maine. Examples of these projects include:

  • The Miami, Florida-based small business nanoSUR, LLC, is developing a gene-targeted insecticide for the red imported fire ant - a specific and menacing crop pest, that is safe for both the people handling it and the environment ($650,000).
  • Optimal Solutions, Inc., of Bridgewater, New Jersey, is developing a novel soil analysis approach that couples an on-site soil sampling system with machine learning to incentivize more proactive soil management ($650,000).
  • Radical Plastics, a small business based in Marblehead, Massachusetts, is developing a new technology to produce soil biodegradable plastic mulch films that solve current technologies' limitations, while enabling farmers to increase crop yields, preserve water, energy and fertilizers, reduce labor and costs of farming ($650,000).
  • Simonpietri Enterprises, LLC, a small business in Kailua, Hawaii, is developing a fuel refining technology that can make urban wood waste and construction and demolition debris usable for conversion into lower-cost jet fuel ($650,000).
  • Springtide Seaweed, a small business in Gouldsboro, Maine, is refining nursery and farm seaweed cultivation systems to extend the U.S. seaweed industry beyond the low-value brown kelp crops into more valuable crops like nori and dulse ($650,000).

View the complete list of the 28 funded Small Business Innovation Research projects:

  • Forests and Related Resources (3 awards, $1,900,000)
  • Plant Production and Protection (Biology) (3 awards, $1,849,000)
  • Animal Production and Protections (2 awards, $1,290,088)
  • Conservation of Natural Resources (2 awards, $1,299,939)
  • Food Science and Nutrition (3 awards, $1,949,851)
  • Rural and Community Development (3 awards, $1,949,958)
  • Aquaculture (2 awards, $1,242,975)
  • Small and Mid-Size Farms (3 awards, $1,949,867)
  • Plant Production and Protection (Engineering) (7 awards, $4,394,828)

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 2021, NIFA’s total investment was $1.96 billion.

Visit our Twitter: @USDA_NIFA; LinkedIn: USDA-NIFA.


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Farm Bill Priority Areas
Agriculture systems and technology
Agriculture economics and rural communities

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