What do the EPA, “Shark Tank” PittMoss® and Peat Moss Have in Common?

What do the EPA, “Shark Tank” PittMoss® and Peat Moss Have in Common? Keep reading to find out about federal grants to small businesses and a small business success story.

If you aren’t familiar with federal grants for small businesses, you should take a peek at www.sbir.gov . It’s dubbed, “America’s Seed Fund,” and 11 federal agencies have funding projects to award to small businesses. Established in 1982, SBIR encourages small businesses to participate in research and development of new ideas and programs that may become commercialized. For each agency that has an R&D budget in excess of $100 million, the agency must devote a minimum of 2.8% of its research budget to small business grants. That’s $2.8 million minimum multiplied by 11 federal agencies of grant money available for small business research grants.

SBIR projects are defined across three phases of R&D. Phase I is a “get to know you” phase. Businesses can be awarded up to $150,000 for six month projects to establish “technical merit, feasibility, and commercial potential of the proposed R/R&D efforts…” Should a project show promise, businesses can request Phase II funding for amounts up to $1 million for projects lasting under two years. If commercialization is feasible, the company may pursue Phase III. However, no funding through SBIR is available. Not to fear, some agencies will still contract for products, processes or services developed from the small business.

EPA’s closing date for 2017 applications is October 20, 2016. DOE, HHS, DOD all have October deadlines for their programs as well.

The EPA is encouraging applications for grants in the following areas:

  • Sensors for Formaldehyde or Methane Emissions
  • Greener Manufacturing of Plastics, and Greener Plastics and Products
  • Cleaner Manufacturing Processes for Dyes, Paints, and Inks
  • Technologies to Help Consumers Understand the Chemical Composition of Consumer Products
  • Non-Reverse Osmosis Based Desalination Units for Small Communities
  • Non-Toxic Coatings for Water Pipes and Water Pipes that Prevent the Growth of Biofilms, Corrosion, Scaling, and Leaching of Lead
  • Simple Lead Test for Tap Water in Homes
  • Non-Toxic Interior Construction Materials for Homes and Greener Exterior Construction Materials

For more specifics check out: https://www.sbir.gov/node/1188353

One Success Story that may have caught your eye is with a company with a product called PittMoss®. Almost 20 years ago, the company was awarded a Phase I EPA SBIR grant. And, then, more recently, the company received over $1 million in private equity money. They got investment capital and media coverage after appearing on an episode of ABC’s “Shark Tank.” PittMoss® is a substitute for Peat Moss, according to the founder Mont Handley. Peat Moss is taken out of its natural environment in bogs, and used to grow plants. PittMoss® is a replacement that uses recycled paper in its patented formula.

For the full success story, check out:  https://www.sbir.gov/sites/default/files/SBA_PittMoss_FINAL.pdf

Or, visit Handley’s website: www.pittmoss.com .

Congratulations, Mont Handley! Your ingenuity, persistence and hard work are paying off.

LK Greer

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