In 1982 the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Development program was established by Congress to provide seed capital for research and development through 11 Government Agencies. For profit companies with less than 500 employees that are majority owned by US Citizens or permanent resident aliens are invited to submit proposals for a chance at funding for their innovative idea. Eleven Government Agencies (such as USDA, NSF, and DoD) participate, and each agency handles the grant proposals, review, and selection differently.
For winning proposals, the USDA provides funding of $100,000 for eight (8) months to cover concept development. This is called a Phase I grant. If a company successfully navigates concept development, they may apply for a Phase II grant. If awarded, a Phase II grant supplies up to $600,000 for two more years of concept development. The ultimate goal is commercialization of a new technology or innovation.
|One company that at least in part owes its existence to the USDA SBIR program is Green Heron Tools. Based on the premise that garden tools work well for male body structures but not female, two dynamos, Liz Brensinger and Ann Adams, rounded up a team consisting of engineers, farmers and occupational therapists to develop a new concept: ergonomic garden tools for women. In 2008, Green Heron Tools launched.|
To read more about Liz and Ann's story and to find out how you can apply for a USDA SBIR Phase I grant, read the complete blog article.
|Kyle White is a County Extension Educator (Lorain County) & Area Leader (Area 4) for OSU Extension.|