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SBIR Impact - October 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.


The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) is an agency within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), part of the executive branch of the Federal Government. Congress created NIFA through the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008. NIFA replaced the former Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES), which had been in existence since 1994.

The SBIR solicitation period for FY 2011 Phase I grants closed on September 2. Please e-mail sbir@nifa.usda.gov if you have any comments, questions, or concerns about this process for FY 2011 submissions.  Applications that met the requirements of the solicitation are being processed and will be peer reviewed.  Applicants will learn of funding decisions in Mid March 2011. 

SBIR Phase II grants are currently limited to $500,000 and duration of 24 months and are only open to previous USDA SBIR Phase I awardees. In November of this year, the SBIR program will send an invitation letter via email 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 2010 Phase I grantees are eligible to apply for FY 2011 Phase II grants. In addition, any FY 2007, 2008, 2009 or past Phase I grantees that 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 sbir@nifa.usda.gov.


Commercialization Training Program for Phase I Project Directors:In 2010, the SBIR program provided an innovative commercialization training program to aid all Phase I grant recipients in the development of a commercialization plan.

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. The Commercialization Training Program for Phase I projects 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 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 2010 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 and Purdue of the program.  If you have any questions please send an e-mail to sbir@nifa.usda.gov.

The first webinar took place on October 6.  All the webinars are archived and can be viewed at a later date, so it is not too late to register for this program.  Grantees need to 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.

Commercialization Assistance Training Program for Phase II Project Directors:As in past years, the USDA SBIR program has initiated a Commercialization Assistance Training Program (CATP).  The CATP will include a 2 day workshop March 3 – 4, 2011.  All FY10 Phase II recipients will be contacted regarding their mandatory participation in this program.  This program is offered at no cost to the participants, however travel and per diem will have to be covered by the company and grant funds may be used for these expenses.

RT solutions is a company that develops “Worm Power” which is an all organic worm casting product based on the power of beneficial microorganisms and earthworms to boost soil fertility for plant and soil needs.  RT solutions has won several USDA SBIR awards and has recently won the Livingston County Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Year for 2010 and the company was featured in the Livingston County News.

For more information:

RT Solutions, LLC
Phone: (716) 574-8494
Website: www.wormpower.net

ST. LOUIS [Sept. 1, 2010] – Divergence, Inc., a leader in the discovery of products for the control of parasites and other pests in agriculture and medicine, was honored to be named the recipient of the 2010 Dr. William D. Phillips Technology Award by the St. Louis County Economic Council.  The award was presented by St. Louis County Executive Charlie A. Dooley, Economic Council President and Chief Executive Officer Denny G. Coleman, and Chairperson Sheila M. Sweeney.

“The Divergence team is doing work that will have a positive impact on agriculture, human health, and the environment,” said Derek Rapp, Chief Executive Officer of Divergence.  “We expect our research and development efforts to generate novel products in the coming years that will increase grower yield, replace toxic pesticidal chemistry, and improve the quality of life of people and animals.”

“Divergence is grateful to the St. Louis County not only for the recognition coming from today’s award but, more importantly, for the support that the County has provided Divergence over the years,” said Rapp.  “Divergence benefits from state-of-the-art laboratory, office, and greenhouse facilities and access to a community of talented scientists and advisors in the Greater St. Louis Metropolitan Area.  All of these assets are essential ingredients of Divergence’s accomplishments.”

Divergence is located at the Bio-Research & Development Growth Park on the campus of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis, Missouri.bout Divergence:

Divergence, Inc., a world leader in the application of genomics and informatics to agriculture and infectious disease, discovers and develops products for the safe and effective control of parasites.  The company's initial focus is on parasitic nematodes, devastating unseen pests that cause billions of dollars in crop loss annually and widespread disease in humans and animals.  For more information visit Divergence’s Web site at www.divergence.com.

For more information:

Divergence, Inc.
Phone: (314) 812-8052
Email: rapp@divergence.com
Website: www.divergence.com

Researchers at the Nitrate Elimination Company are working to develop a recombinant form of the enzyme “purine nucleoside phosphorylase (PNP)” as the basis for development of simple, reliable, field usable test kits to help them develop a better way to test for phosphate levels in a lab or in the field.  Enzyme-based methods for analytical chemistry have a number of advantages over wet chemistry and instrumental methods, including reduction of sample preparation time and decreased use of hazardous or toxic reagents.  This work was featured on WLUC TV6 and FOX UP in Michigan.  A local reporter spent several hours with the company and showcased the research locally and on their website.  To read the article and see videos from the report go to: www.uppermichiganssource.com/news/story.aspx?id=501644

For more information:

The Nitrate Elimination Company, Inc.
Email: ellenr@nitrate.com
Website: www.nitrate.com

Tools and equipment function best and are safest and easiest to operate when they fit the user.  Despite increases in the number of women farmers and the significant differences between women's and men's bodies, women typically have to use agricultural equipment designed for men.  Some anatomical and physiological characteristic place women at higher risk for farm injuries and musculoskeletal disabilities (MSDs),the leading cause of disability for people in their working years.  Redesigning small machinery is a major strategy to prevent MSDs.

USDA SBIR Phase II Project Directors, Ann Adams & Liz Brensinger of Green Heron Tools, LLC, are researching the development of safer, more user-friendly alternatives to the traditional walk-behind rotary tiller, a vital piece of equipment on small farms.  Their research was highlighted in the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) newsletter.  To access this article go to www.pasafarming.org/resource/Passages_83.pdf.

For more information:

Green Heron Tools, LLC
Email: greenherontools@gmail.com
Website: greenherontools.com



FY 2010 Phase I grants were awarded in June and July.  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 sbir@nifa.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 refere to the terms and conditions for the grant or go to the SBIR Grantee Resources page on our 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 reference the terms and conditions for the grant to determine what information is needed to complete the request.  For additional questions please contact the SBIR staff at sbir@nifa.usda.gov and or the National Program Leader responsible for the grant.  

Proper acknowledgement of NIFA 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 National Institute of 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 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.


The fall 2010 SBIR National SBIR Conference will be held in Oklahoma City November 8-11, 2010.  USDA will be sending a representative to this meeting.  For more information on the conference go to www.sbirok.org.


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 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 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.


To receive e-mail notification of future 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.