USDA 2020-2021 Small Business Innovation Research Grant

The USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) requests Phase I applications for its FY2020 and 2021 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant. Successful applicants may receive up to $100,000 of grant funds. This program exists to stimulate scientific discovery and technological innovation of private products and services with commercial potential and/or societal benefit. The SBIR program funds small businesses conducting early stages of research and development (R&D).

When is the application deadline?
For FY2020, Phase I applications are due October 23, 2019 at 5:00 p.m. EST. Applications may only be submitted electronically through

Who is eligible?
Applicants must qualify as a Small Business Concern (SBC) in the United States and have fewer than 500 employees to be eligible for grant funds. Applicants must register with the SBIR company registry. Nonprofit organizations are not eligible as the primary applicant. The project director/principal investigator for the project must be primarily employed (at least 51% of time) by the SBC for the project to qualify.

What is the maximum funding amount?
Phase I applications may request a maximum of $100,000 for a period of 8 months (special cases may allow up to 20 months). Funding quantity and availability depend on the passage of an appropriations act for FY2020 and 2021. There is no match requirement.

What projects are eligible?
Phase I of the SBIR program funds projects that demonstrate technical feasibility of a proposed innovation to bring the innovation closer to commercialization. Phase I projects involve a high degree of technical risk as they have never been successfully attempted and face technical hurdles the grant-funded R&D work intends to overcome. Phase II helps fund the commercialization process and requires a separate application. New and resubmitted applications are allowed, but applicants may submit only one application.

Phase I research projects should fall under one of the following topic categories:
1. Forests and Related Resources. Develop environmentally sound and sustainable methods of increasing woody resource usage, forest health, pest and fire resiliency, and productivity.
2. Plant Production and Protection (Biology). Develop novel ways of enhancing food and non-food crop production and resiliency.
3. Animal Production and Protection. Develop environmentally sound technologies to prevent, detect, and treat diseases that threaten food animal health.
4. Conservation of Natural Resources. Develop technologies that better monitor and conserve the quality and quantity of clean water, soil, and air.
5. Food Science and Nutrition. Develop processes, technologies, or services that increase understanding of nutrition to increase health, decrease obesity, and alleviate food deserts. Improve food production and processing to ensure food quality, safety, and waste reduction.
6. Rural and Community Development. Address a specific rural problem to improve the quality of rural American life in an environmental or socio-economic way. (Not limited to agriculture.)
7. Aquaculture. Increase aquaculture production and efficiency in the United States to increase food security.
8. Biofuels and Biobased Products. Develop technologies to make non-food, agriculturally-derived materials (like biofuel) useful to and competitive in industries.
9. Small and Mid-Size Farms. Promote the sustainability of farms that generate annual sales of less than $500,000. Contribute to the well-being of rural communities and institutions around these farms.
10. Plant Production and Protection (Engineering). Develop economical and environmentally sound methods of enhancing the efficiency, profitability, and pest-defensibility of crops.
While not offering them as standalone topics, the USDA NIFA recognizes agricultural-related manufacturing technology and efficient, alternative, and renewable energy production as relevant priorities that span all listed topics.

What is the project timeline?
Most awarded Phase I projects must be completed within 8 months. The expected start and end dates for Phase I are July 1, 2020 to February 28, 2021.

To learn more about this program, click here, or contact one of Morrison’s consultants.


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