Small Businesses Grow Big Environmental Technologies
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program is a “small” program with tremendous success stories. EPA today announced $1.75 million in SBIR contracts to 25 small businesses to research and develop new environmental technologies. As one example of previous SBIR success, Edenspace Systems developed plants that effectively extract arsenic from soil, avoiding digging up large tracts of residential properties. The plants were used by the U.S. Army to clean up contaminated areas of Spring Valley in Washington, D.C., a process that is called phytoremediation.
It might be a surprise to some that a small business created such an innovative and successful product. But it really isn’t unusual - the majority of U.S. new technologies are developed by America’s 25 million small businesses, which also employ more than 50 percent of workers. To participate in EPA’s SBIR program, a small business must have fewer than 500 employees, and at least 51 percent of the business must be owned by U.S. citizens.
“There are huge new opportunities for profits in the booming green technology business sector,” said Dr. George Gray, assistant administrator for the Office of Research and Development. “Many large corporations are already investing heavily in environmental applications. Through the SBIR program, EPA is helping small businesses also make significant contributions to new technologies that are both environmentally friendly and profitable.”
Today’s awards will help small businesses develop new technologies in five areas: nanotechnology and pollution prevention, biodiesel and ethanol biofuels, solid and hazardous waste, air pollution control, and homeland security. Each company will receive $70,000 for Phase I or “proof of concept” awards. If Phase I is successful, the companies can apply for Phase II awards to commercialize their technology. EPA will be accepting submissions for the next year’s Phase I SBIR awards until May 21, 2008.
SBIR was established to ensure that new technologies are developed to solve priority environmental problems, and is just one example of EPA’s commitment to achieving real world environmental results though the use of innovative technology. In 2006, EPA established the Environmental Technology Council (ETC) to increase the Agency’s role as a facilitator in development and commercialization of technologies that measurably improve specific environmental problems. Since its inception in 1982, EPA’s SBIR program has helped fund more than 600 small businesses.
EPA is one of 11 federal agencies that participate in the SBIR program, enacted in 1982 to strengthen the role of small businesses in federal research and development, create jobs, and promote U.S. technical innovation in the United States.
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