Small businesses in the ag sector are getting quite a boost, as the federal government gives out more than $18 million in small business grants. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) is giving the money in the form of 100 grants through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program to companies for high quality, advanced research and development that will lead to technological innovations and solutions for American agriculture.
“Small businesses are adept at finding solutions that can advance agriculture, create new jobs and grow our economy. These grants will provide resources so small businesses can innovate and create new breakthroughs,” said USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. “The SBIR program has provided hundreds of small businesses with the ability to explore new ideas that have led to cutting-edge solutions to pressing challenges and helped keep American agricultural innovative and strong.”
The SBIR program exists to stimulate technological innovations in the private sector and to strengthen the role of federal research and development in support of small businesses. The program also fosters and encourages participation by women-owned and socially or economically disadvantaged small businesses.
Companies initially apply for Phase I feasibility studies, which may be followed by Phase II research and development projects. Phase I grants are limited to $100,000 and a duration of eight months, while Phase II grants are limited to $450,000 and a duration of 24 months. Approximately 30-40 percent of Phase I projects continue onto Phase II.
Since 1983, the SBIR program has handed out more than 2,000 research and development grants to American-owned, independently operated, for-profit businesses with 500 employees or fewer.