Two agricultural technology firms in Iowa have won small business innovation and research grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
U.S. Ag Secretary and former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack says a total of $7.4 million is being awarded to 76 businesses in 35 states.
“This program basically focuses on ag innovation, the innovation that can impact and affect production of crops and livestock or the protection of crops and livestock,” Vilsack says. “That innovation starts with research, oftentimes on a university campus, funded in part by the support that U.S.D.A. provides to land grant universities.”
Vilsack says the new localized investments help to support groundbreaking scientific research that improves agriculture and creates strong rural economies.
“An idea, a thought basically then is developed and the assistance we provide here will allow that idea and thought to potentially get up to scale, to get commercial-sized and to get out in the marketplace,” Vilsack says. “There are just incredible innovations that will make a difference over time.” Each of the two Iowa firms are getting $100,000 U.S.D.A. grants and Vilsack summarized what they’re working to create. The first company is in the Des Moines metro area.
“Accelerated Ag Technologies of Urbandale is receiving some assistance for the development of reliable methods to preserve maize pollen,” Vilsack says. “That, obviously, is linked to corn production.” The other firm is also in central Iowa.
“Gross-Wen Technologies of Ames is working on developing a new biobased product from wastewater that will essentially result in a slow-release, algae-based fertilizer,” he says. Rural America is on the road to recovery after one of the worst economic recessions in our history, Vilsack says, and “we cannot underestimate the role that small business innovation has played in bringing jobs back to their hometowns.”