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SBIR Impact - September 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


USDA SBIR completes electronic submission for FY2007 phase I grants

The USDA SBIR solicitation period for FY 2007 phase I grants closed on September 1st 2006. Electronic submission was mandatory, via Grants.gov, and 536 proposals were successfully submitted through this new process. Although the total number of submitted proposals was lower than in previous years, the decrease is in part a result of the elimination of the Wildlife topic area in FY2007.

Feedback from applicants on the new process has been positive. The most common problems encountered involved the Grants.gov registration process and last minute proposal submission. In an upcoming newsletter, additional information on electronic submission will be provided. Please contact us at sbir@csrees.usda.gov if you have any questions or concerns about this process for FY2008 submissions.

Dr. Dionne Toombs assumes responsibility for Topic Area 8.5 Food Science and Nutrition

Dr. Toombs has recently assumed responsibility for the Food Science and Nutrition Program. She began her professional career with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in 2003. Dr. Toombs is a Nutritionist and has led various activities for the Food Science and Human Nutrition programs in the National Research Initiative (NRI), Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES), USDA. She earned her B.S. in Biology from Bethune Cookman College, Daytona Beach, FL. After completion of her M.S. studies in Food Science at Alabama A & M University, Normal, Alabama, she obtained her Ph.D. in Nutritional Sciences from Howard University, Washington, DC.

FY 2006 Phase II Grants

FY 2006 Phase II grants were recently made official and 32 companies were awarded a total of nearly $8.5 million. Abstracts for the funded projects are now available on our Web site.

DOE/USDA SBIR Energy Summit presentations available

The July DOE/USDA SBIR Energy Summit was a tremendous success and input from the participants was overwhelmingly positive. Many of the PowerPoint presentations made at the conference are now available via links provided on the summit's Agenda.


In 2005 SBIR initiated the Animal Manure Management topic to address the need for new technologies to manage the manure from livestock and poultry operations. The number of concentrated animal production facilities for dairy, beef, swine and poultry throughout the U.S. has increased. Federal and state regulations require these operations meet certain environmental standards. At this time, economically viable treatments and management technologies are not available to producers.

The objective of this research area is to develop new or improved technologies and environmentally sound approaches for improved management of animal manures. The research is intended to reduce the adverse impact of animal manure on the environment and people and improve the economics of animal production by optimizing manure management technologies and creating value-added products derived from animal manure . The research may include other materials combined with the manure such as bedding, litter, and water.

The FY 2006 research supported four main areas:

  1. Systems for Handling Animal Manure – This includes both liquid and solid manure.
  2. Air Emissions - Development of methods for the abatement of air emissions from animal manure management systems.
  3. Water Resources - Development of processes to reduce the impact of animal manure on surface and groundwater resources.
  4. Value-added Products – Development of innovative ways to process animal manure into value-added products.

In the past two years the Animal Manure Management topic area has funded 14 phase I and 3 phase II projects. The projects included topics, such as measuring specific gaseous emissions, odor control techniques, nutrient recovery, utilization of separated solids, and energy production. Visit our abstracts page for more information about this topic area.


BlueSky Designs

On September 29, 2006, BlueSky Designs received a da Vinci Award in recognition of its work developing and commercializing the Freedom tent, a more universally accessible tent designed for people with disabilities. The da Vinci Awards® are given by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society to honor outstanding design and engineering innovations relative to product design, design process, and applied research in accessibility and universal design.

The Freedom tent is a first in the outdoor industry. The easy-to-open zipperless door, spacious vestibule, and zipper loops are design elements that benefit anyone, with or without a disability. Additionally, the tent may be set up from a seated position. Finally, the versatile vestibule area provides shelter for people and pets and serves as a storage area for chairs and gear. Eureka!, a mainstream tent manufacturer, licensed the Freedom tent and the fan door, bringing the Freedom tent to market in 2005.

Visit the CSREES newsroom for the complete press release.



Zigbeef has been featured in several recent articles about their phase I grant entitled “A New Technique to Ease Collection of Cattle Electronic Identification Numbers”.

Purdue's Agricultural Innovation and Commercialization Center/New Ventures Program is a multi-faceted integrated Extension program that provides assistance for individuals and groups from different backgrounds and with different needs, around the U.S. and beyond. Aspiring businesses can obtain assistance in evaluating new business ventures in one or more of the following ways:

InVenture is an easy-to-use, systematic, Internet-based business planning tool developed by Purdue New Ventures/AICC. There are currently over 1000 registered users of InVenture worldwide. Entrepreneurs are guided through a business planning process in stages. In each stage, the entrepreneur answers key questions that guide the business creation process. The result is a business plan that may be shared with potential partners or investors. A set of resource materials (primarily Purdue Extension publications) and Internet links (to assist the entrepreneur in finding information on potential demand, business license requirements, etc.) is integrated into InVenture. InVenture is open to any businesses interested in developing a business plan. Self registration is all that is required.

To assist in evaluating new business opportunities, a series of over 20 new publications have been developed, available in print form and via the Internet. In addition to providing useful information, many of these publications contain worksheets to help the user work through the abstract concepts associated with business planning and evaluation. The most recent publication titled “How to Write a Successful Grant Proposal” provides a guide for business people who are working through the process of writing a grant to assist in their business venture.


Cooperative Research and Development Agreements

The Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer defines a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) as “an agreement between one or more federal laboratories and one or more nonfederal parties. Under a CRADA, the government laboratories provide personnel, services, facilities, equipment or other resources with or without reimbursement (but not funds to nonfederal parties). The nonfederal parties provide funds, personnel, services, facilities, equipment or other resources toward the conduct of specified research and development (R&D) efforts that are consistent with the mission of the laboratory”.

The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) is the U. S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) chief in-house scientific research agency with 2,100 scientists at 100 locations working in 22 national programs. The ARS mission is “finding solutions to agricultural problems that affect Americans everyday, from field to table”.

With nearly half of all of the Agricultural Research Service CRADAs involving interaction with small businesses, ARS scientists and laboratories can provide small businesses an excellent opportunity to gain needed technical expertise and support to help achieve their goals and objectives in agricultural-related research and development. A CRADA combined with an SBIR grant can provide the combination of funding and scientific support to help champion a new innovative idea or process. ARS scientists can also provide some consultation and support in writing and applying for an SBIR grant. Please visit ARS on the web at http://www.ars.usda.gov/main/main.htm, or contact the ARS Office of Technology Transfer at 301-504-6905.


Manufacturing Extension Partnership

Many companies developing SBIR-supported products think of manufacturing as a last step, something to worry about after a product is fully developed. Early consideration of the manufacturing strategy can help launch a more successful product into the marketplace.

Arbuckle Ranch of Montana, a USDA SBIR awardee has been able to develop its invention – The Arbuckle Native Seedster – with reduced weight and production costs by working through several manufacturing considerations during the design and prototyping phase. This native grass seed harvester will reduce the price per pound of over 100 difficult-to-harvest species of native grasses that are typically used to restore native habitat along highways or areas impacted by fire, overgrazing, mining, or construction.

Generally almost 85 percent of the manufacturing and life-cycle costs of a product are “locked in” at the design and development stage. Steps you can take to improve your speed to market and product performance include:

  • Reducing the number of parts you have to form, make or assemble, or selecting different materials can save you time and money in manufacturing and perhaps improved product performance, resulting in lower prices and improved quality to the customer;
  • Another manufacturing tactic is working with outside vendors or suppliers who can manufacture or assemble certain select component parts – utilizing their expertise to save you time and money in the design, development, and manufacturing stages;
  • A third approach is to sub-contract out all of the manufacturing and assembly work to a partner or third-party. Under this approach, an SBIR awardee still manages the product, but does not have to invest or develop an in-house manufacturing capability until a product is successful, reducing financial risk.


Rancher and inventor Lee Arbuckle worked closely through Phases I and II with Dale Detrick, a field engineer with the Montana Manufacturing Extension Center (MMEC). MMEC is the local affiliate of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP). Using his machine design and manufacturing expertise, Dale provided extensive design support, vendor selection, and material recommendations to achieve functionality and weight reduction for the harvester.

Dale made Lee aware of the manufacturing impact of his design decisions and helped him to look to proven technologies that would reduce cost and improve the product. Instead of setting up his own manufacturing facility, Lee decided it is more cost-effective at this point to hire a contract manufacturer.

NIST MEP has worked with over 12 percent of the USDA Phase II awardees for the last two years. NIST MEP has an affiliate in every state, serving small and medium-sized manufacturers with a wide variety of issues. As with the case of Arbuckle Ranch and Dale Detrick, your local NIST MEP affiliate can lend a hand as you move forward with your SBIR project and begin thinking about manufacturing strategies. For more information, visit the NIST MEP Web site at: http://www.mep.nist.gov/.


FY 2005 Phase II grants were made official in September 2005. Interim technical reports for these grants are due at the mid-point of the project. There is no calendar deadline for the submission of interim reports; however, Phase II interim reports are typically submitted around the one-year anniversary of the project's start date. These reports must be sent electronically to sbir@csrees.usda.gov in order for grant funds to be authorized beyond the initial 50 percent of the grant amount. For more information on reporting requirements, please see SBIR Grantee Resources.

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. Please contact sbir@csrees.usda.gov for a high quality image file of our logo.


Dr. William Goldner - Mississippi FAST SBIR Workshop, Mississippi State University, Starksville, MS, October 12-13.

Dr. S. (Suresh) Sureshwaran - USDA-CSREES Grantsmanship Workshop, Dallas, TX, October 17th.

Dr. Dick Hegg – 2006 Texas SBIR/STTR Conference at the George Bush Presidential Library, College Station, Texas, October 17th .

Dr. Charles Cleland will be attending the National SBIR Conference in Milwaukee, WI, November 6-9 and will be available to meet with potential and past applicants to the program throughout the conference.


Recent and Upcoming Meetings - USDA SBIR Grantees

Joe Megy of JDC Inc., a recipient of several phase I grants in the Soil and Water Resources Topic Area, will be presenting information about “The Kiln Phosphoric Acid (KPA) Process” at the 21st Annual Regional Phosphate Conference in Lakeland, FL October 11-12.


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

  • 8.5 Food Science and Nutrition
  • 8.6 Rural and Community Development

Dr. Dionne Toombs

  • 8.9 Marketing an05/05/2010


    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.


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