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SBIR Impact - September 2007

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

The SBIR solicitation period for FY 2008 Phase I grants closed on September 12. Electronic submission was mandatory, via Grants.gov, and 639 proposals were successfully submitted through this process.

Feedback from applicants on the process has been positive. The most common problems involved the Grants.gov registration process and last-minute proposal submission. Please e-mail sbir@csrees.usda.gov if you have any comments, questions, or concerns about this process for FY 2008 submissions.

Many potential Phase II applicants noticed that the FY 08 Phase I Request for Applications (RFA) did not include any information about the Phase II submission process. There was a decision made by SBIR staff to have two separate solicitations, one for Phase I applications and a second for Phase II applications. At the appropriate time, the SBIR program will send a letter to Phase I awardees eligible to submit Phase II applications. This letter will include instructions for preparing and submitting applications and will also include a deadline date. SBIR staff anticipates that the letters will be sent out to eligible Phase I awardees in early October.


Breakthrough Technology to Detect Lame Cows Early: Current estimates put the economic losses associated with dairy cattle lameness at $90 per cow every year. Inaccurate lameness diagnoses and a lack of observable symptoms compound the problem. Diagnostic accuracy is subjective and studies show that producers correctly identify only 40-45 percent of lame cattle in their herd. The economic impact of lameness is significant, but there is also a growing animal welfare component to this issue. By detecting lameness early, it will be possible to treat cattle more effectively and retain the cow in the herd. Accurate and systematic identification of lame cattle will reduce cases of lameness and decrease economic losses to producers and enhance animal welfare. The BouMatic Company received a Phase I and II grant from the SBIR program and developed and marketed a groundbreaking technology called StepMetrix™. This technology identifies lameness in dairy cattle before dairy operators can identify lameness visually, and it continuously monitors the soundness or lameness of every cow in a herd. The output from StepMetrix™ monitors the condition of individual cows, cow lots, and an entire herd. This information helps dairy producers manage both the nutritional and medical aspects of hoof health.

This was a collaborative effort between several grant programs, including the University of Maryland Experiment Station Hatch program, National Research Initiative (NRI) Animal Protection and Biosecurity program, and the SBIR Phase 1 & 2 awards granted to BouMatic, to successfully develop this important new tool and market it worldwide to help reduce lameness in dairy cattle. For more information, see the NRI Research Highlight.

From Cow Pies to Cow Pots: A Creative Way to Manage Farm Waste: Dairy farmers constantly struggle with managing nutrient runoff from the farm. Freund's Farm, Inc., located in Connecticut , has developed an innovative and environmentally sound solution to this problem, CowPots. Inventors at the farm have created a digestion and dehydration process to overcome the troublesome odors and high nitrate content in cow manure. The remaining manure fibers are then formed into a variety of shapes and sizes to create CowPots, which can be planted in the ground to fertilize plants. This project received Phase I and Phase II funding from the SBIR program to develop and market this product, and received the 2007 Mailorder Gardening Association Green Thumb Award for outstanding new products. The inventors of CowPots have been featured on the Discovery Channel's Dirty Jobs show, CNN's Larry King Live, The Today Show, and in a Research Result article on the CSREES Newsroom Web page. For additional information, you can access the USDA article or contact Freund's Farm, Inc.

R&D Magazine's 2007 R&D 100 Awards: ROOTVIZ FS is an X-ray based plant root visualization method developed by Phenotype Screening Corporation (PSC) of Seymour, TN. The X-ray pictures reveal the living plant roots under a variety of conditions in a non-destructive manner. Since the measurement technique is non-destructive, the long-term development of an individual plant's root system can be studied over time. Through collaborative efforts with the U.S. Forest Service, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, University of Tennessee , and State University of New York, Syracuse , PSC researchers developed this technology under a 2006 Phase I SBIR grant. PSC will further develop the technology from annual plants to perennials under a new SBIR Phase II grant. This award is presented annually by R&D Magazine to the 100 most technologically significant products introduced into the marketplace over the past year, as determined by an independent judging panel and the editors of R&D Magazine. The Chicago Tribune has called this prestigious award "The Oscars of Invention." For more information, contact Daniel W. McDonald, project director, at (865) 385-8641.

CSREES Hosts Stakeholder Session in Food Protection: CSREES National Program Leader Dionne Toombs collected and presented participant input regarding food safety issues at the stakeholder's listening session of the International Association for Food Protection's (IAFP) annual meeting on July 9 in Lake Buena Vista , FL. IAFP attracts university, federal, and industry partners from the United States, Canada, Mexico, Europe, China, and Japan. The stakeholder listening session provided a great opportunity for CSREES staff to hear from domestic and international partners.

Controlling the Geese and Pigeon Population: The increasing presence of Canadian geese in the United States negatively affects the health, safety, and property of humans. Risks include the spread of disease, the possibility of strikes with aircraft, attacks on humans (particularly children), and property damage from fecal deposits and excess grazing. Until recently, no practical and humane solution was available to mitigate the damage caused by the excess goose population. Innolytics, LLC, of Rancho Santa Fe, CA, received a 2005 Phase I grant to develop a birth control product to control geese populations. Innolytics has further developed the technology to work with pigeons. The research from this project has been recently publicized in the national media as means to control both geese and pigeon populations in Oregon and California. For more information, visit the Innolytics, LLC, Web site.

New Commercialization Training Program for Phase I Project Directors : In July, the SBIR program launched an innovative commercialization training program to aid all Phase I grant recipients in the development of a commercialization plan. The plan is a key aspect of the Phase II grant application, and provides a foundation for continued progress towards commercialization, even if the project is not selected for future SBIR Phase II funding. This is an optional, online training course, developed and offered by the Agricultural Innovation and Commercialization Center (AICC) at Purdue University , at no cost to the participants.

The course will consist of the following four segments:

  • Downloadable online lecture materials.
  • Online quiz materials to monitor progress. Questions will help participants write better commercialization plans.
  • Feedback on a two-page draft commercialization plan submitted with the midterm report.
  • Opportunities to interact, via the Internet, with Purdue faculty, SBIR staff and other SBIR grant recipients.

AICC will follow the progress of participants for 5 years after course completion to evaluate the its impact, including whether participants received a Phase II grant from USDA and made any progress towards commercialization.

Although participation in the commercialization training course is optional, the SBIR program strongly encourages all Phase I grant recipients to participate in the Phase I commercialization training offered by AICC. We expect the course will help participants develop a stronger commercialization plan and, in turn, increase their potential for success. If you are an SBIR Phase I grant recipient, you should have been contacted by AICC and registered in the program by now. If AICC has not contacted you, but believe you should have been, please send an e-mail to SBIR.

AICC was created in December 2003 with support from the USDA. It offers a wide range of information and commercialization tools. AICC provides educational materials and advice, including INVenture, an online business planning tool; workshops; readings and fact sheets; and consultations. More information about the senter is available at the Purdue Web site.

Conference to Enhance Linkages between Universities and Small Businesses: The USDA SBIR program is collaborating with the National Science Foundation (NSF) SBIR and the Experimental Program for Stimulating Competitive Research (EPSCoR) programs to co-host the first conference on “Enhancing Linkages between Universities and Small Businesses in EPSCoR Jurisdictions,” October 15-16, at the South Portland Marriott at Sable Oaks, ME. The conference aims to accelerate the developing research infrastructure in EPSCoR states by enhancing linkages between universities and existing small businesses, which allows the latter to benefit from university research.

To strengthen research and education in science and engineering throughout the United States , and to avoid undue concentration of such research and education in a few states, several federal agencies had targeted programs to stimulate sustainable improvements in the R&D capacity and competitiveness of the states underrepresented in federal programs. Since 1993, Congress has directed NSF to coordinate these programs across federal agencies to maximize the taxpayers' investment, resulting in EPSCoR. This conference is funded by the EPSCoR program.

The conference targets university researchers interested in transferring their research findings to real world applications; university administrators interested in assisting and leading the successful commercialization of ideas created by their university family; and state officials interested in promoting small business development, R&D capacity, and economic growth. The targeted audiences are small business owners; scientists with research grants; university technology transfer officials; state SBIR officials; state economic development and technology transfer officials; state NSF EPSCoR administrators; and others interested in economic and small business development. While participants from EPSCoR states are targeted, this conference has the potential to benefit residents of all other states as well.

The conference includes plenary sessions on the USDA and NSF SBIR programs, EPSCoR and university incubator programs, state programs facilitating technology transfer, and finding potential partners. Several concurrent break-out sessions will feature university research faculty and small business partners who will share research findings and discuss partnerships and networking. Three main tracks will be featured: alternative energy, environmental science and engineering, and communication technology (technologies that can enhance communication within counties during emergencies and across counties to promote information sharing). For each session, a combination of speakers at the national, regional, and local level will provide a well-rounded view of the focus area. The conference will also include posters/exhibits and a networking room to share research and development findings, identify potential partners, and help develop network possibilities.

The Maine NSF EPSCoR/University of Maine, Maine Technology Institute, and the Maine Office of Innovation organized the conference. More information about the program and registration/hotel details is available at the University of Maine Web site, or by contacting Karen West-Morgan or Siva Sureshwaran.


Food Science and Nutrition Program (8.5): The Food Science and Nutrition topic area has a unique niche by supporting research for small businesses to improve food and nutrition through commercialization of useful new food products, processes, materials, systems, and technologies. The knowledge gained from successful projects helps deliver the best quality food and protect the nation's food supply. For example, funded projects may have developed novel rapid tests to determine food quality and safety parameters; rapid detection methods of food-borne pathogens and toxic metabolites to reduce food contamination and food-borne illnesses; methods for processing and packaging food products; and nutrition-related technologies and processes to improve health.

The FY 2008 research supported five main areas:

1.  Developing novel or rapid assay, bioassay techniques or field tests to measure nutrients and food interactions;
2.  Developing innovative food processing and packaging technologies;
3.  Developing sensor technologies and improved methods for detecting microorganisms during post harvest, processing, and distribution;

Examples of common food-borne bacteria:

  • E coli 0157:H7 associated with fruits and vegetables
  • Vibrio species associated with seafood
  • Salmonella species and Campylobacter species associated with poultry and swine
4.  Development of specialty products or processes using non-thermal techniques for food preservation; and
5.  Developing and using information technology to address obesity and nutritional issues among children, older adults, and families, as well as developing intervention strategies to increase awareness and improve health.

Contact Dr. Dionne Toombs, national program leader for SBIR Food Science and Nutrition, for more information.


FY 2007 Phase I grants were made official in May. Interim technical reports for these grants are due in early October 2007. 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 on the Web site.

In the event a company is unable to complete its grant's objectives within the official grant period, the company's authorized organizational official (AOR) and/or project director (PD) may request a no-cost extension of up to 1 year. Before submitting such a request, the AOR/PD should contact the SBIR national program leader responsible for the grant to discuss the reasons for the request. See SBIR Grantee Resources on the CSREES Web site for more information.

Reports are required, despite the amount of grant funds spent during a given quarter. Failure to submit reports in a timely manner will result in a hold placed on the Payment Management System (PMS) account with the Department of Heath and Human Services (DHHS). Funds will not be released until the delinquent report(s) have been submitted, resulting in lifting of the DHHS hold. The SBIR program staff does not have access to this system and cannot remove any holds placed on the system by DHHS. Contact Vivian Hughes if you have questions about these reports or need help in completing them. Questions can also be sent to the general PMS help desk.

Each grantee must provide the SBIR office with current contact information. Because correspondence between SBIR staff and grantees is conducted almost exclusively via e-mail, providing a correct e-mail address is critical. Although maintaining this information is only explicitly required for the duration of the grant, all prior grantees are encouraged to maintain contact with the SBIR office. Please send changes in contact information to the SBIR office, and include either the proposal or grant number for all projects to which the change applies.

Please note: Update e-mail addresses with the Department of Health and Human Services' Payment Management System as well.

Acknowledging SBIR Funding

Proper acknowledgement of CSREES funding in published manuscripts, presentations, and press releases is important for the success of the 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 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 and work that has been supported through our program. This acknowledgement is beneficial for both the 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 the SBIR office for a high quality image file of our logo.


Scott Dockum - CSREES Grantsmanship Workshop, Denver, CO, October 2.

Drs. Suresh Sureshwaran and Dionne Toombs - CSREES Grantsmanship Workshop, Washington, DC, October 9.

Dr. Suresh Sureshwaran - Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) South Portland, Maine on October 15-16.

2007 Fall SBIR Conference (Richardson, TX), October 29-November 01.

Dr. Suresh Sureshwaran - 10th Biennial Hawaii SBIR/STTR Conference, November 12-16.


Dr. Pete Burfening

  • 8.3 Animal Production and Protection

Dr. Charles Cleland

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

Dr. William Goldner

  • 8.2 Plant Production and Protection - Biology
  • 8.8 Biofuels and Biobased Products
  • 8.13 Plant Production and Protection - Engineering

Dr. Richard Hegg

  • 8.11 Animal Manure Management

Dr. S. Sureshwaran

  • 8.6 Rural Development
  • 8.9 Marketing and Trade

Dr. Dionne Toombs

  • 8.5 Food Science and Nutrition

Scott Dockum

  • General SBIR Program Support


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


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