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NIFA Invests Over $2.3M for Small Business Innovation Research

A bee gathers pollen from a blueberry bush.

A bee gathers pollen from a blueberry bush, courtesy of Getty Images.

KANSAS CITY, Mo., May 18, 2021 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announced today an investment of over $2.3 million as part of the USDA Small Business Innovation Research Program. NIFA recently awarded eight grants totaling $812,939 to small businesses to improve plant production and protection, eight awards totaling $797,602 for animal production and protection, and seven awards totaling $706,120 for conserving natural resources.
“NIFA’s Small Business Innovation Research program stimulates technological innovations in the private sector and strengthens the role of federal research and development in support of small businesses,” said NIFA director Dr. Carrie Castille. “This program also fosters and encourages participation by women-owned and socially or economically disadvantaged small businesses.”
Examples of funded Plant Production and Protection (Biology) Small Business Innovation Research projects include: A project from Southern Escape Vanillery, LLC, of Homestead, Florida, “Domestic Vanilla Cultivation: Agrivoltaics, Propagation, and Breeding,” to develop novel approaches to vanilla cultivation, plant propagation and breeding to increase domestic production and support rural communities. A project from Stephen Peterson of Foresthill, California, “Developing Osmia Ribifloris as a Commercial Pollinator for Blueberries,” to help blueberry growers improve crop yields by adding this gentle, native bee species and reducing the number of hives rented. A project from Argvegenix, LLC, St. Louis, Missouri, “Development of Novel Cover Crop, CoverCress, as a Sustainable Plant-based Protein Source for Food Applications,” to demonstrate CoverCress as a new source of protein for the plant-based protein market.
Examples of funded Animal Production and Protection Small Business Innovation Research projects include: A project from Pan Genome Systems, LLC, of Madison, Wisconsin, “Multivalent Vaccines Against Infectious Bronchitis Virus,” to develop and test new, better vaccines for treating severe respiratory infections in poultry. A project from Oxford Biomedical Research, Inc., of Metamora, Michigan, “Simple & Rapid Tests for the Quality of Animal Feeds,” to develop a test to determine the freshness of chicken feed on-site at farms in less than five minutes. A project from Emery Animal Health of Castle Dale, Utah, “Improving Herd Reproductive Efficiency Utilizing Artificial Intelligence Assisted Sperm Analysis & Support Apps,” to create more reliable diagnostic tools that will objectively analyze bull semen to help producers improve herd fertility.
Examples of funded Conservation of Natural Resources Small Business Innovation Research projects include: A project from Applied Environmental Solutions, LLC, of Madison, Ohio, “Investigation of Passive Phosphorus Reduction Through Use of an Innovative Hydrogel Technology,” to use hydrogel technology to reduce harmful phosphorus resulting from fields, streams, or outflows from constructed wetlands. A project from Onvector, LLC, of King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, “Treatment of Non-Traditional Water Sources for Agricultural Irrigation Using a Novel Plasma Reactor,” to develop and demonstrate a new type of reactor that would be an inexpensive and reliable means to treat non-traditional source waters for use in agricultural drip irrigation. A project from Giner, Inc., of Newton, Massachusetts, “A Rapid, Field-Portable Sensor for Detection of E. Coli O157:H7 in Irrigation Water Used for Fresh Produce Cultivation,” to give produce growers the ability to rapidly monitor and reduce the incidence of pathogen-contaminated fresh produce.
The next Phase 1 request for Small Business Innovation Research applications is scheduled to open in July 2021, with a deadline in October 2021. Learn more about USDA’s Small Business Innovation Research program.
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 FY2020, NIFA’s total investment was $1.95 billion.
Visit our website:; Twitter: @USDA_NIFA; LinkedIn: USDA-NIFA. To learn more about NIFA’s impact on agricultural science (searchable by state or keyword), visit

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