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SBIR Impact - April 2010

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


Phase I panels are complete and funding recommendations have been made. Project directors who submitted proposals will receive word via phone or e-mail about their status of their proposals. If you submitted a FY 2010 Phase I applications and have not been informed about the status of your proposal, contact us at sbir@nifa.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 May 1. 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 proposal is complete.

The next USDA-SBIR Phase I Solicitation is tentatively scheduled to be released June 2010, with a closing date in early September 2010. All FY2011 proposals must be submitted electronically through Grants.gov.  Note that the registration process for submitting applications electronically can take as much as one month to complete, and registration must be finished prior to submitting a proposal.  If you intend to submit an application, you need not wait until the RFA is published and can begin the registration process immediately.


RT Solutions, LLC
RT Solutions, LLC
RT Solutions, LLC (RTS) has built a unique process-controlled "state-of-the-art" earthworm composting facility that process and transforms large volumes of dairy manures into a user friendly and unique plant production product called “Worm Power”. Worm Power is an all natural product certified for use in organic food and fiber production and is based on the power of beneficial microorganisms and 8,000,000 earthworms to boost soil fertility and soil-less potting mixes for commercial plant production. This project received a USDA SBIR Phase II award in 2009 and as of February was 100% sales committed for all of 2010's production of vermicompost (~300K lbs). Because the product is in such high demand with greenhouses, vineyards, and golf courses, the company has secured additional financing from two foundations and an equity partner to expand the facility by 800% to fill the new and increasing product orders. Construction began in December 2009 and final commissioning is expected later this year. This is a great example of how a small amount of SBIR support can be leveraged with substantial outside support to lead to commercial success. The support of the USDA and their Cornell University collaborators has helped grow the vermicompost market with serious commercial growers and given the interest in the product, RTS sees the market expanding for the foreseeable future. The USDA SBIR staff will keep in touch with RT Solutions as it is expected that this product could grow into one of USDA SBIRs largest success stories over the next several years and have a major positive impact on the dairy industry in this country. For more information about the company and product visit http://www.wormpower.net.

Green Heron Tools, LLC
The number of female farmers in the U.S. is on the rise, indicating a need for agricultural equipment that is safe and easy to use for women. The American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers will be hosting their Annual International Meeting June 20 – 23, 2010 and Aaron Yoder of  Green Heron Tools, LLC will be presenting an abstract titled Designing Tools and Agriculture Equipment for Women which will highlight their 2009 Phase I project.  The presentation will be on Monday, June 21 during a 9:30 a.m. to noon session entitled Safety Improvements through Design.  For more information go to http://greenherontools.com.

Many FY 2009 phase I grants expired Dec. 31, 2009. For those companies whose grants expired on that date, final technical reports are due to our office within 90 days after the grant expiration date. These reports must be sent electronically to sbir@nifa.usda.gov. For more information on reporting requirements and the steps necessary to close out a grant, please visit http://www.nifa.usda.gov/funding/sbir/sbir_grantee.html.

SF-272 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 placed on your Payment Management System (PMS) account with the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), and you will not be able to withdraw funds until the delinquent report(s) have 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@nifa.usda.gov and include the proposal and 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 as well.

USDA SBIR Staff encourages all grantees to review the terms and conditions that were provided in the grant paperwork.  Within the terms and conditions are the requirements for completing your grant, including deliverables and how funding is disbursed.  If you cannot locate the terms and conditions in your package you can download a copy at the Grantee Resources page.

Proper acknowledgement of NIFA 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 National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA), Grant Number (Insert Grant Number Here).”

We strongly encourage you to acknowledge NIFA 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.

The USDA SBIR program has partnered with Larta Institute, a premier commercialization assistance organization, to develop and implement the 2010 USDA-Commercialization Assistance Training Program (USDA-CATP) for Phase II projects.  If your company enrolled in the program you will receive correspondence from Larta and the USDA SBIR office regarding the upcoming Webinar training.  Space is limited for these training seminars so plan to RSVP early.

*Please note: Only USDA SBIR Phase II companies that enrolled in the Phase II CATP are eligible to attend these important seminars.*



The 2010 Ag Innovation Showcase (www.agshowcase.com) will feature timely discussions on some of agriculture's most important topics including; the intersection of ag and energy, global partnerships, and the future of ag investing. These discussions will frame fifteen entrepreneurial company presentations, where entrepreneurs will present novel technologies and approaches in the sectors of ag-bio, biofuels, informatics, animal health, food and nutrition, and sustainable materials.

By bringing together commercially viable innovations with a prime network of investors, entrepreneurs, and industry leaders, the event is a catalyst for new funding strategic partnering, and licensing opportunities.

For more information, visit the event's website at www.agshowcase.com.

Dr. Charles Cleland will be attending the Ag Innovation Showcase being hosted at the Danforth Plant Science Center, St Louis Missouri May 24 – 25, 2010.  For more details about the meeting go to http://agshowcase.com.


Dr. Charles Cleland

  • 8.1 Forests and Related Resources
  • 8.4 Soil, Water and Soils
  • 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 and Community Development
  • 8.9 Marketing and Trade

Dr. Dionne Toombs

  • 8.5 Food Science and Nutrition

Dr. Adele Turzillo

  • 8.3 Animal Production and Protection

Scott Dockum

  • General SBIR Program Support


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@nifa.usda.gov or call (202) 401-4995.


To receive email notification of future USDA SBIR newsletter releases, send a message to sbir@nifa.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.