The USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announced a second solicitation of Phase I FY2020 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant applications to address COVID-19 research questions. This early response deadline is most relevant to specific SBIR topic areas identified by NIFA as described below. There is approximately $25 million in funding and successful applicants may receive up to $100,000.

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).

What projects are eligible for this early response deadline? 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 then helps fund the commercialization process and requires a separate application. New and resubmitted applications are allowed, but applicants may submit only one application.

For this second solicitation, NIFA identified the following topic areas as most relevant to COVID-19 research questions related to food and agriculture:

  1. Animal Production and Protection. Develop environmentally sound technologies to prevent, detect, and treat diseases that threaten food animal health.
  2. 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
  3. 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.)
  4. 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.

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

What is the maximum funding amount? Phase I applications may request a maximum of $100,000. There is no match requirement.

What is the project timeline? Most awarded Phase I projects must be completed within eight months (special cases may allow up to 20 months). The start and end dates for the second solicitation are September 1, 2020 to April 28, 2021.

When is the application deadline? The deadline for this solicitation of Phase I applications is May 21, 2020 at 5:00 p.m. EST.

The full second solicitation Request for Applications is available here.

For more information on this grant or how to apply with Morrison’s assistance, please contact the Morrison Grants Team by email at or call us at 530-893-4764.


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