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USDA Announces Grants to Help Small Business Strengthen Innovation in Private Industry


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WASHINGTON, Dec. 12, 2013 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced more than $18 million in grants to small businesses to conduct research and development that will lead to technological innovations in the agriculture industry. The awards were made by USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).

"USDA grants to small businesses have spurred the development of hundreds of technologies and products that help make American agriculture successful," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "Today's announcement is another example of USDA's focus on science and research that can strengthen the economy and create jobs across the nation. Innovative agricultural research has helped make agriculture one of the two most productive industries in the U.S. economy since 1980, but we need a new Food, Farm and Jobs Bill passed if we are to sustain it."

USDA made the grants through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, with the goal to stimulate technological innovations in the private sector and to strengthen the role of small businesses in meeting federal research and development needs. The program also fosters and encourages participation by women-owned and socially- or economically-disadvantaged small business firms.

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 50 percent of Phase I projects continue onto Phase II.

In fiscal year 2013, USDA awarded $5,862,650 in Phase I grants and $12,417,504 in Phase II grants. A complete list of fiscal year 2013 SBIR awards is available online: www.nifa.usda.gov/newsroom/news/2013news/sbir_grantees.html

Since 1983, the USDA SBIR program has awarded more than 2,000 research and development grants to American-owned, independently operated, for-profit businesses with 500 employees or fewer.

USDA NIFA administers the SBIR program, with funding provided by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, the Agricultural Research Service, NIFA, the Economic Research Service, the National Agricultural Statistics Service, and the U.S. Forest Service.

Through federal funding and leadership for research, education and extension programs, NIFA focuses on investing in science and solving critical issues impacting people's daily lives and the nation's future. More information is at www.nifa.usda.gov.

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