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SBIR Impact - June 2008

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

Resources

Impacts

Reminders and Deadlines

Meetings

SBIR Staff and Responsibilities

Feedback

Subscription Information

The FY09 Request for Applications (RFA) was released on June 27, 2008, with a closing date of September 4th, 2008. Please check the Web site for more information. All FY2009 proposals must be submitted electronically through Grants.gov, and all attachments must be submitted in Portable Document Format (PDF). Note that the registration process for submitting applications electronically can take as much as two weeks to complete, and registration must be finished prior to submitting an application. To complete the registration process, go to www.grants.gov and click on the “get registered link” under the applicants menu. Applicants must allow additional time for electronic submission and plan ahead. It is recommended that applicants begin submitting their completed application at least one day prior to the deadline to allow for unforeseen problems or delays.

FY08 phase II reviews are complete and funding recommendations have been made. Project directors who submitted applications should have received word via phone or e-mail if their application was recommended for funding. If you submitted a FY 2008 phase II proposal and have not been informed about the status of your proposal, contact us at sbir@csrees.usda.gov. Information about the recommendation status of a proposal will only be made available to the project directors and/or authorized organizational officials. Information about new grantees will be posted on our abstracts page as soon as awards are made official, around September 1, 2007. We caution companies that have been recommended for an award about publicizing this information before the grant is made official. Grants are not official until a thorough administrative review of each recommended application is complete.

Abstracts for all the FY08 funded phase I projects are now posted on the SBIR website.  

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In 2007, the SBIR program launched an innovative commercialization training program to aid all Phase I grant recipients in the development of a commercialization plan. This training will be offered again to 2008 Phase I awardees.

The commercialization 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:

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

AICC will follow the progress of participants for five years after course completion to evaluate 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 notified by SBIR staff of the program. You should be contacted by AICC in the future, and they will aid in registering you for the program.  If you have any questions 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 center is available at the Purdue Web site.   

As in past years, the USDA SBIR program is planning to initiate a Commercialization Assistance Training Program (CATP) this fall. The CATP will include a 2-day workshop this fall and as dates are determined all FY08 Phase II recipients will be contacted regarding their participation in this program. This is an optional program and is offered at no cost to the participants.

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On June 26, 2008, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture, Subcommittee on Horticulture and Organic Agriculture held a hearing to review the status of pollinator health including Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). The current issues with CCD have the potential to affect many crops that depend on annual pollination from bees and other insects. The SBIR program has been working with small businesses to help understand the issues related to CCD.

U.S. honeybees are important agricultural workers, pollinating an estimated $15 billion worth of fruit, seed and fiber crops annually. As their population dwindles for unknown reasons, honeybees and the U.S. beekeeping industry are in a precarious position. With research and development funding from the USDA SBIR program, Dr. Gordon Wardell, president of the SAFE R&D LLC, and his team developed a new diet for honeybees called MegaBeeTM.

This important pollinator, the honey bee, has recently experienced significant declines in populations due to CCD. The reason for CCD remains unclear, but the impact on domestic honey bee populations has been dramatic with annual losses ranging between 40 and 60 percent. Honeybees must also contend with the irritating problem of parasitic mites and other pests that compromise honeybee health and vitality.

Wardell, a Tucson entomologist, and his research partner Fabiana Ahumada-Segura, decided to tackle the decline in honeybee population from a different angle, the honeybee diet. The pair felt the current diet lacked variety resulting from the bees being moved from monocultural crop to monocultural crop. This lack of pollen diversity is resulting in nutritional deficiencies.

After four years of research and development, Wardell developed a nutritional supplement, called MegaBeeTM, which is similar to a bee smoothie when mixed with sugar syrup. It contains protein, lipids, balanced amino acids, and other nutrients that support healthy hive development.

"MegaBee" is produced and marketed by Yuma-based Castle Dome Solutions LLC in partnership with Hamilton, Ill.-based Dadant and Sons Inc. as a product for commercial and hobbyist beekeepers. Castle Dome started manufacturing MegaBee in September 2007, said Cherie Gilmore, the company's sales manager.

An independent study completed in 2007 compared the effectiveness and efficiency of MegaBeeTM to conventional sugar syrup. The study found the brood (young bees) production rates in honeybees receiving the MegaBee supplement tripled. In addition, colonies fed MegaBee retained 30 percent more adult bees and more efficiently converted food to brood, resulting in greater adult bee populations and colonies better able to do their job of pollination.

Megabee mimics the natural texture and consistency of pollen and is readily consumed by honeybees. The product is supplied to the beekeeper as a powder, which can be fed to the bees in moist cakes that resemble cookie dough or as a liquid that resembles a smoothie.

Climate change is forcing earlier than normal floral bloom in many plants including domesticated plants of agricultural significance. This change of floral cycle significantly impacts the bees.  In addition, several important agricultural crops, like almonds, naturally bloom in the middle of winter. Honeybees have to be stimulated to produce the number of bees necessary to do an adequate job of pollinating these early season crops. Wardell said, "Supplemental food for our bees is not just recommended today, it’s mandatory."

"It's a very nutritional diet for the bees," said Wade Fisher, a third-generation pollinator working in Florida and several New England states, who recently began using the MegaBee supplement.
CSREES funded this research project through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. Through federal funding and leadership for research, education and extension programs, CSREES focuses on investing in science and solving critical issues impacting people’s daily lives and the nation’s future. 

FY 2008 phase I grants were made official in May. Interim technical reports for these grants are due by the midpoint of the project in early October. 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 website.

Reports are required even if you have not spent any grant funds during a given quarter. Failure to submit reports in a timely manner will result in a hold being placed on your Payment Management System (PMS) account with the Department of Heath and Human Services (DHHS), and you will not be able to withdraw funds until the delinquent report(s) has been submitted and the hold is lifted by DHHS. USDA-SBIR program staff does not have access to this system and cannot remove any holds placed on the system by DHHS. If you have questions about these reports or need help in completing them, you can contact Vivian Hughes (vhughes@psc.gov or 301.443.9181) at PMS who handles the USDA-SBIR account. Questions can also be sent to the general PMS help desk (PMSSupport@psc.gov).

Each grantee must provide the SBIR office with current contact information. Because correspondence between USDA-SBIR staff and grantees is conducted almost exclusively via e-mail, correct e-mail addresses are critical. Although maintaining this information is only explicitly required for the duration of the grant, we encourage all prior grantees to maintain contact with our office. Please send changes in contact information to sbir@csrees.usda.gov and include either the proposal or grant number for all projects to which the change applies. Please note: e-mail addresses also need to be updated with the Department of Health and Human Services’ Payment Management System.

Proper acknowledgement of CSREES funding in published manuscripts, presentations, and news 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 our program supports. 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. Charles Cleland will be participating in the 2008 Regional SBIR/STTR Summer Session meeting in Portland, Maine, July 9, 2008.

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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

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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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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.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, and where applicable, sex, marital status, familial status, parental status, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, political beliefs, reprisal, or because all or part of an individual’s income is derived from any public assistance program (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs.) Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program information (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.) should contact USDA’s TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TDD). To file a complaint of discrimination, write to USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, DC 20250-9410, or call (800) 795-3272 (voice) or (202) 720-6382 (TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.