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SBIR Impact - December 2006

SBIR Impact is a quarterly newsletter for small businesses interested in the USDA-SBIR program and for institutions and organizations that support the small business community and rural America.

Program Update

Topic Focus



Reminders and Deadlines


SBIR Staff and Responsibilities


Subscription Information


Andrew Wilson, the current USDA SBIR program specialist, will be leaving his position with SBIR in January to become the managing Web editor for CSREES. Andrew has had significant involvement with SBIR's customer service and outreach activities. To help ensure continuity in service, we ask that all general grant and applicant correspondence be sent to sbir@csrees.usda.gov. In addition, we would like to take this opportunity to remind current SBIR grantees that interim and final technical reports should also be sent to this address.

Phase I proposals submitted for the September 1, 2006, deadline are undergoing the peer review process.  Proposals have been assigned and sent to reviewers, and panels will meet in January and February. Final funding recommendation will be made in early to mid-March, with notifications to companies being made shortly thereafter.  Grants, provided recommended companies successfully complete the CSREES administrative review, will become official on or around May 1, 2007.  This is the same timetable that was provided in the FY 2007 Request for Applications.  The next deadline for submitting a Phase I proposal to the USDA SBIR program is tentatively scheduled for August 31, 2007.   

The deadline for Phase II proposals is February 1, 2007.  All proposals must be submitted electronically via Grants.gov by 5 p.m. eastern time.  In addition, all potential applicants must complete the required registration process prior to submitting their proposal.  This process can take up to one month; therefore, any companies that have not yet begun this process need to do so immediately.  Information on the registration can be found on Grants.gov's Organization Registration pages.

Our recent Phase I electronic submission identified several problematic issues for USDA SBIR applicants.  The most critical and most frequently encountered problems are outlined below. If more information about the submission process is needed, please contact us at sbir@csrees.usda.gov.

  • Grants.gov requires the use of the PureEdge Viewer to complete and submit proposals.  There are certain technical requirements for this program to operate properly, and the use of non-compliant hardware or software can impact an applicant's ability to successfully submit a proposal.  In particular, our experience shows that applicants using Netscape or Firefox Web browsers or Macintosh computers can have difficulty submitting their proposal. It is critical that potential applicants read the technical requirements for the PureEdge Viewer and address any issues well in advance of the proposal deadline.  Questions concerning the technical requirements for the PureEdge Viewer should be directed to Grants.gov customer support.

  • Grants.gov does not require the use of a high speed connection to submit proposals; however, applicants that attempt to submit proposals via a dial-up internet connection may encounter difficulties.  Proposal submission can take more than an hour, and several SBIR applicants reported losing connection with Grants.gov during this process.  We strongly suggest that applicants submit via a high speed connection.

  • USDA SBIR requires that all attachments are PDF (Portable Document Format) documents.  Attachments are not converted from their native format, i.e . Microsoft Word, to PDF by the PureEdge Viewer.  Software to convert documents to PDF format is available at the Grants.gov Web site. The applicant is responsible for ensuring that ALL attachments are in the proper PDF format and adhere to the formatting guidelines stipulated in the FY 2007 RFA.  In addition, we strongly encourage applicants to double-check the PDF documents prior to attaching to ensure that no corruption or formatting problems occurred during the conversion process.

Information on no cost extension requests was recently added to our Grantee Information section of our Web site. This section also has information on USDA SBIR reporting and closing out requirements. In an effort to improve our customer service, we welcome any suggestions for additional information to our grantee resources pages.



The Industrial Applications topic area continues to be one of the most timely and exciting research areas in USDA SBIR.  Biobased products, including biofuels, continue to grow in importance, primed in part by the drive to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign sources of energy and raw materials. The objective of this research area is to promote the use of biobased products by developing new or improved technologies that will lead to increased production of industrial products from agricultural materials. This research will lead to new opportunities to diversify agriculture and enhance its role as a reliable supplier of raw materials to industry. Rural communities stand to benefit from the growing demand for and investment in biobased products.

For FY 2007, the USDA SBIR program will use the Industrial Applications topic area to create a strong portfolio in bioenergy and in the development of new crops to serve as feedstocks for biobased products. Toward this goal, proposals were strictly limited to:  

  • Bio-based Fuels - New and improved technology for conversion of agriculturally important biomass material into alcohol and other products to be used as fuel,including but not limited to ethanol, hydrogen, and biodiesel; fuel additives; and co-products from the biofuel production stream that will optimize the economic feasibility of the production of biofuels.
  • New Crops for the Production of Non-food Bio-based Products – Identification, testing, and development of new crops that will provide new local or regional economic opportunities for farmers and growers to produce raw materials for the production of non-food bio-based products.

While not uncommon to other CSREES funding opportunities, creating focused portfolios within USDA SBIR topics areas has only recently been considered. Focusing allows USDA SBIR to provide critical support to the most relevant research goals.  The USDA SBIR team will be studying the consequences of focusing research portfolios to determine if this approach will create more impact and enhanced public benefit.

Abstracts for Industrial Applications projects are available as well as an updated list of USDA SBIR funded sustainable/ renewable energy related projects.


Zigbeef recently published a video on their Web site showing work on their USDA SBIR grant, “ A New Technique to Ease Collection of Cattle Electronic Identification Numbers.”

NECi, The Nitrate Elimination Co., Inc ., recently received a grant from the Agricultural Innovation Program of the Michigan Department of Agriculture as part of the state's 21st Century Fund initiative. The grant, totaling $50,000, will fund a marketing initiative for the Nitrate Test Kits for Agriculture (Ag-NTK) developed with USDA SBIR funding.

State Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) can serve as an excellent resource for small businesses. Based in universities, colleges, and economic development agencies, SBDCs provide individual counseling, training, and research assistance. Many offer online assistance and access to resources that may be useful for out-of-state companies. America's Small Business Development Center Network has information and resources pertaining to SBDCs, including a database of state offices and contacts. In an effort to promote these local resources, we plan to highlight some of the states that have proven to be particularly helpful to USDA SBIR applicants and awardees.

Submitted by John Ujvari, SBIR program specialist, North Carolina Small Business and Technology Development Center. Visit the North Carolina SBTDC Web site for more information.

The North Carolina Small Business and Technology Development Center (SBTDC) is North Carolina 's leading support resource for the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. The SBTDC offers a toolbox of services to North Carolina-based start-up and pre-start-up firms interested in learning about and pursuing SBIR and STTR funding including the following:

A key aspect of North Carolina 's SBTDC is the one-on-one counseling provided. The SBTDC's SBIR program specialist and technology counselors statewide are available to meet one-on-one with those interested in learning more about SBIR/STTR. The goals of a counseling session are to present a clear overview of the funding programs, help the client determine if these funding programs are a fit with their firm's strategy, and inform the client of next steps, including solicitation searches and proposal writing.

Once a firm has identified the SBIR/STTR programs as a viable source of funding, the next step is often the most difficult - writing the proposal. This is especially true for first-time applicants. While we do not write proposals, we can assign a “homework” list of items that provide guidance prior to sitting down at the keyboard. Once a draft is developed, the client can forward it to us for a review, which will focus on the business and formatting elements of the proposal. We can not necessarily comment on the science, because we are not the experts. For a scientific critique, we always suggest requesting a review by a colleague or another expert in your field who is willing to sign a confidentiality statement. We provide our critique to the client, at which time, the recommendations can be acted upon prior to agency submission. We request that drafts be sent to us at least two weeks prior to the submission deadline.

A variety of SBIR events are planned and hosted by the North Carolina SBTDC. Half-day introductory SBIR/STTR workshops, held in partnership with university tech-transfer offices, are carried out statewide throughout the year.

The North Carolina SBTDC offers a wealth of SBIR/STTR information via several venues including a SBIR/STTR focused Web site. Within the Web site you will find a downloadable, comprehensive handbook composed of program information and proposal preparation material. Samples of successful applications that demonstrate the elements of a competitive proposal are also available, along with an archive of our monthly SBIR/STTR-focused newsletters. This newsletter is distributed via the Web to over 2,300 readers and highlights agency news, proposal tips, success stories from NC, a calendar of events, and proposal due dates.

SBIR/STTR outreach and education, while the central element of North Carolina SBTDC's technology development and commercialization team, are not the only services offered. Composed of six counselors located around the state, the team offers a variety of services that accompany the SBIR/STTR services provided.

  • Commercialization assistance

  • Strategic planning

  • Business planning

  • Financial planning

  • Partnering/licensing

  • Assembling the team

  • Fundamental IP support


The deadline for Phase II proposals is February 1, 2007.  All proposals must be submitted electronically via Grants.gov by 5 p.m. eastern time.

Acknowledging SBIR Funding

Proper acknowledgement of CSREES funding in published manuscripts, presentations, and press releases is critical for the success of the USDA SBIR program. We specifically ask that you use the following language to acknowledge this support:

“This project was supported by the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program of the USDA Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES), Grant Number (Insert Grant Number Here).”

We strongly encourage you to acknowledge CSREES funding in interviews and articles that feature your company, as well as work that was supported through our program. This acknowledgement is beneficial for both the USDA SBIR program and the companies with whom we partner.

Finally, we ask that you use the CSREES logo on your PowerPoint presentations or posters at meetings. CSREES logos are available in several formats on our Web site.


Dr. Dionne Toombs will be attending an SBIR Conference in Lexington, KY, March 8, 2007.


Recent and Upcoming Meetings - USDA SBIR Grantees

EA Photonics will be presenting a conference paper , “Detection of Bruises on Apples Using Spatial-Frequency-Domain Imaging,” at the International Society for Optical Engineering's (SPIE) Symposium on Biomedical Optics (BiOS) 2007, January 20-25 2007, in San Jose, CA  This paper describes work that was performed in the USDA Phase I grant entitled, “Spatial-Frequency-Domain Imaging Instrument for Quality Assessment of Apples.”


Pete Burfening

  • 8.3 Animal Production and Protection

Charles Cleland

  • 8.1 Forests and Related Resources
  • 8.4 Soil and Water Resources
  • 8.7 Aquaculture
  • 8.12 Small and Mid Size Farms

William Goldner

  • 8.2 Plant Production and Protection – Biology
  • 8.8 Industrial Applications
  • 8.13 Plant Production and Protection – Engineering

Richard Hegg

  • 8.11 Animal Manure Management

Dr. S. Sureshwaran

  • 8.6 Rural and Community Development
  • 8.9 Marketing and Trade

Dr. Dionne Toombs

  • 8.5 Food Science and Nutrition



The USDA SBIR staff encourages feedback concerning this newsletter and, more broadly, the administration of the USDA SBIR program. We are committed to being responsive to the needs of applicants to the program and to those companies who have received USDA SBIR grants. Please send comments to sbir@csrees.usda.gov or call (202) 401-4995.


To receive email notification of future USDA SBIR Newsletter releases, send a message to sbir@csrees.usda.gov and type subscribe sbir in the subject line.

Leave the Subject line blank and type the following message in the text area: Subscribe sbir

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