USDA invests $21.6 million in small business-led innovation


WASHINGTON, Nov. 16, 2022 – US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Senior Scientist Chavonda Jacobs-Young today announced a $21.6 million investment in scientific research for small businesses to advance transformative farming solutions.

“Small businesses, particularly rural and agricultural businesses, play an important role in the American economy. They embody the entrepreneurial spirit that America was built on,” said Jacobs-Young, who is also the USDA’s undersecretary for research, education and business. “This latest investment strengthens federal research and development support for small businesses, including women- and minority-owned businesses, and bolsters USDA’s efforts to rapidly scale innovation throughout the food supply chain.”

This investment is part of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s (NIFA) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, which targets early-stage private sector projects. The grant funding will support 34 research projects proposing innovative and breakthrough solutions on issues ranging from food science and nutrition to the conservation of natural resources.

“The projects we support demonstrate scientific originality, technical feasibility and strong commercial potential,” said Acting NIFA Director Dr. Dionne Toombs. “With this research, our small business partners are helping to solve some of our most vexing farming problems.”

The grants announced today support businesses across the country, from Washington to New York. Examples of funded projects are:

  • Inventherm of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, develops commercial soft ice cream and slush machines that use a new, more cost-effective disinfection process. Improperly cleaned machinery can be a source of contamination and foodborne illness. The new process eliminates contamination and saves machine owners thousands of dollars annually. This Phase II funding will allow an advanced prototype to be built and brought to the commercial market.
  • Hangar Alpha LLC of New York, New York, has developed real-time fire behavior prediction tools. These tools help with cost-saving planning and preventive measures as well as the correct allocation of resources in real time. This funding will enable the company to rapidly develop and commercially produce predictive fire analytics for the public sector and expand into the technically advanced private sector.
  • Mirtech Inc. of North Brunswick, New Jersey, has developed a system that will open up new market opportunities for the pear industry. The system will provide ready-to-eat fruit at the retail level and extend shelf life by 10 to 12 days – benefiting both retailers and consumers.

View the full list of the 34 Small Business Innovation Research projects funded:

  • Forests and Related Resources (2 Awards, $1,299,734)
  • Crop Production and Protection (Biology) (1 prize, $650,000)
  • Animal Production and Conservation (3 Awards, $1,899,999)
  • Conservation of Natural Resources (5 Awards, $3,249,849)
  • Food Science and Nutrition (5 Awards, $3,192,035)
  • Rural and Community Development (4 awards, $2,498,235)
  • Aquaculture (3 Awards, $1,889,445)
  • Biofuels and Bio-Based Products (3 awards, $1,950,000)
  • Small and Medium Farms (4 Awards, $2,499,790)
  • Crop Production and Protection (Engineering) (4 awards, $2,549,665)

NIFA invests in and promotes agricultural research, education and extension nationwide to make transformative discoveries that solve societal challenges. NIFA supports initiatives that ensure the long-term viability of agriculture and applies an integrated approach to ensure that breakthrough discoveries in agricultural science and technology reach the people who can put them into practice. In fiscal year 2022, NIFA’s total investment was US$2.2 billion.

The USDA touches the lives of all Americans in so many positive ways every day. In the Biden-Harris administration, the USDA is transforming the American food system with a stronger focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy, and nutritious food in all communities, and building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers who adopt climate-friendly food and forestry practices, make historic investments in clean energy infrastructure and capacity in rural America, and advocate for justice across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce , which is more representative of America. To learn more, visit


USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.

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