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NIFA Announces Funding Opportunity


The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today announced more than $8.3 million in available funding to support small businesses in the creation of advanced research and development projects that will lead to innovative solutions for American agriculture. This funding is available through the Small Business Innovation Research program, administered by NIFA.

“Small businesses are the economic back bone of rural America,” said NIFA Director Sonny Ramaswamy. “The SBIR program has provided small businesses with the opportunity to expand on innovative ideas and technology, resulting in more jobs and long-term commercial value.”

The SBIR program stimulates technological innovations in the private sector and strengthens the role of federal research and development in support of small businesses. The program fosters and encourages participation by women-owned and socially or economically disadvantaged small businesses.

Companies initially apply for Phase I feasibility studies, potentially 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 $600,000 and a duration of 24 months.

Recent examples of successful NIFA-funded SBIR projects include work by the Nitrate Elimination Company, Inc. It developed kits that allow farm managers to rapidly determine nitrate levels in plants. Another example is the project by Whole Trees, LLC that developed a new market for small-diameter round timber – a waste product of well-managed forests; and research by Stony Creek Colors (USDA Blog) that developed indigo as a substitute cash crop that can be grown by tobacco farmers to produce natural dye for blue jeans.  See more examples of SBIR-funded projects in the SBIR brochure (PDF) available on the NIFA website.

Applications are due October 6. See the request for applications for more information.

Since 1983, the 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.

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

NIFA invests in and advances innovative and transformative initiatives to solve societal challenges and ensure the long-term viability of agriculture. NIFA’s integrated research, education, and extension programs, supporting the best and brightest scientists and extension personnel, have resulted in user-inspired, groundbreaking discoveries that are combating childhood obesity, improving and sustaining rural economic growth, addressing water availability issues, increasing food production, finding new sources of energy, mitigating climate variability, and ensuring food safety. To learn more about NIFA’s impact on agricultural science, visit, sign up for email updates, or follow us on Twitter @usda_NIFA, #NIFAimpacts.