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SBIR Impact - October 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



Topic Focus

Reminders and Deadlines


SBIR Staff and Responsibilities


Subscription Information

The SBIR solicitation period for FY 2009 Phase I grants closed on September 4. Please e-mail if you have any comments, questions, or concerns about this process for FY 2009 submissions.

SBIR Phase II grants are currently limited to $350,000 and duration of 24 months and are open to only previous Phase I awardees. In November, the SBIR program will send an invitation letter via e-mail 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. All FY 2008 Phase I grantees are eligible to apply for FY 2009 Phase II grants. In addition, any FY 2007 or past Phase I grantees who have not previously submitted a Phase II proposal are also eligible to submit a proposal this year. If you are planning to submit a Phase II application and have not received the invitation letter by the end of November, please contact us at


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 5 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.

The first webinar was October 2. All the webinars are archived and can be viewed at a later date. Grantees must register for the program by contacting Purdue directly to gain access to archived materials and webinars.

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


Marine aquaculture, farming in the ocean, focuses on environmentally friendly and sustainable methods to cultivate marine biomass for human consumption. With funding from SBIR, a project team in Maine has measured the environmental impact of mussel rafts, an aquaculture method used to grow shellfish in coastal New England.

Carter Newell and John Richardson used a combination of field data and an advanced numerical model to determine how a variety of bivalves, including manila clams, geoducks and Pacific oysters, consume the particles that reach the ocean floor. The researchers conducted these studies in Puget Sound, WA, and Ireland.

For the computer model, the project leaders developed a customized user interface that included the following variables: bathymetry (ocean depth), tidal elevations and speed, wind speed and direction, number of rafts, raft dimensions, rope spacing, rope length, rope diameter, mesh size and depth of predator net, particulate matter and water temperature. Output from the model predicts flow patterns through shellfish rafts, particle depletion caused by the shellfish rafts, shellfish biomass and mooring requirements.

The researchers also examined water velocity and direction and modeled how fouling and seaweed might affect these values, which could affect shellfish survival and growth.

The scientists measured the concentration of chlorophyll, the green pigment plants use to collect sunlight, to estimate food variability during tidal cycles. The data was compared to water filtration through the shellfish raft, based on the biomass of the shellfish. Model output using this information also produced a risk analysis related to site conditions and exposure to wave action.

Recent improvements in the models include an aquaculture geographic information system, computer aided-design representation of aquaculture structures and improved software for shellfish growth and particulate matter depletion models.

Since the 1990s, mussel production using rafting aquaculture techniques has increased in Maine and Washington with more than 2 million pounds currently produced. Mussel production has an economic impact of more than $5 million.

The model developed during this study can be used easily by sea farmers to make important decisions on mooring arrangements and raft modifications. The model output provides sea farmers with a new set of tools to choose productive sites and plan management strategies that take environmental sustainability into consideration.


Many of today's headlines are centered on the topic of renewable energy and the high cost of fuels. Due to the high visibility of energy issues, the Biofuels and Biobased Products topic area has seen substantial growth in the number of applications submitted to the program.

The objective of this research area is to promote the use of biofuels and non-food 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 agriculture's role as a reliable supplier of raw materials to industry. Historically, appropriate research areas have included: development of new crops that have the potential of producing raw materials that can be converted into useful industrial products; development of procedures for enhanced recovery of critical raw materials from agricultural commodities; development of improved technology for converting agriculturally derived raw materials into useful industrial products; and development of industrial products derived from agricultural materials to make them more effective and/or more cost competitive with non-agriculturally derived industrial products. In order to enhance the impact of the program, research is limited to the following selected Priority Research Areas.

  1. Biobased Fuels - New and improved technology for the economically and environmentally sustainable production and conversion of agriculturally important biomass material into ethanol and other products to be used as fuel (including but not limited to ethanol, hydrogen, biodiesel); fuel additives; development of improved biocatalysts for enhanced biofuel production and byproducts from the biofuel production stream that will optimize the economic feasibility of the production of biofuels. This solicitation seeks to support innovative technologies that will minimize environmental consequences during crop biomass crop production (for example: increased crop water-use efficiency; increased nutrient use-efficiency) and conversion (for example: reduction of energy use and water use during conversion; reduction of harmful byproducts from conversion) and have carbon reduction benefits. Applications developing technology for corn grain ethanol production will not be accepted. Applications not addressing economic and environmental sustainability may not be reviewed.
  2. New Crops for the Production of Non-food Biobased Products - Identification, agronomic/horticultural testing, and development of new industrial crops that will provide new local or regional economic opportunities for farmers and growers to produce raw materials for the production of non-food biobased products. Focus should be on crops that do not require high inputs of water and fertilizer.
  3. New Non-food Biobased Products from New Industrial Crops - Identification of markets and development of new biobased products and processes for making products from new industrial crops. These products should be economically competitive and have carbon reduction benefits.
  4. New processes for the manufacture of biobased plastics and products produced from biobased plastics.

Contact Dr. William Goldner , National Program Leader for SBIR Biofuels and Biobased Products, for more information.

FY 2008 Phase I grants were awarded in June. Interim technical reports for these grants are due at the mid point of the project, which for most projects is October or November. These reports must be sent electronically to 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 staff at and or the 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 on how to make this request.

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.

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.

Drs. Suresh Sureshwaran and Dionne Toombs - CSREES Washington, DC, area; Arlington, VA, September 30 - October 1, 2008.

Dr. Peter Burfing - CSREES Salt Lake City, UT; October 7-8, 2008.

Dr. William Goldner - 2008 SBIR/STTR Idaho Regional Conference, Boise, ID ; October 28-29, 2008.

Dr. Charles Cleland - SBIR National Conference Hartford, CT; November 11-14, 2008.


Dr. Pete Burfening

  • 8.3 Animal Production and Protection

Dr. Charles Cleland

  • 8.1 Forests and Related Resources
  • 8.4 Soil, Water and Soils
  • 8.7 Aquaculture
  • 8.12 Small and Mid-Sized 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

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 or call 202–401–4995.


To receive email notification of future USDA SBIR Newsletter releases, send a message to 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.