Eldertide, LLC

Optimizing human health by integrating herbal traditions with scientific research.

SBIR Federal funding: $2.4 million | MTI funding: $345,000

“Success is where inspiration, preparation and opportunity meet.” - Edie Johnston, Founder & Owner of Eldertide, LLC

6 awards totaling ~$2.4 million in federal funding

Phase I/II’s from
U.S. Dept of Agriculture

Phase I/II’s from the
Department of Defense

From the moment scientist Edie Johnston had the vision to use native elderberries for medicinal purposes, she knew she had to further explore the idea. Her initial research confirmed that certain varieties of Maine-grown elderberries contained significantly higher levels of healthy phytonutrients (antioxidants) compared to the ones grown outside of Maine. With an innovative idea in mind, in 2007, Edie launched her Research and Development (R&D) company, Eldertide, LLC.

Researching an Innovative Concentration Process

One of the biggest challenges facing Eldertide was how to create a potent and concentrated elderberry juice while protecting chemical compounds typically affected by mainstream juice concentration. Traditional concentrate processes involve high heat and filtration that lessen the nutritional value of the fruit or berry. Eldertide needed to create a concentrate for ease of consumption, but didn’t want to lose the nutritional value that made Maine elderberries so unique to begin with.

It was clear to Edie that she needed to devote serious resources into R&D in order to solve this problem. To supply Eldertide with fresh organic ingredients, Edie established an organic farm certified by the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association. The farm grows elderberries and other botanicals as ingredients for Eldertide’s plant-based nutraceuticals. Then she also founded Maine Medicinals, Inc. to handle manufacturing and distribution of her envisioned products. This strategic move to establish separate businesses was essential in allowing Eldertide to focus solely on R&D.

But as a start-up and first-time business owner, Edie faced numerous hurdles including a lack of funding and technical support. To solve these entrepreneurial challenges, she researched various opportunities and found that Maine Technology Institute (MTI) was a great match for Eldertide’s earlier innovations.

MTI Helps Eldertide Secure Federal Funding

Through MTI, she learned about the federal Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program and knew that it would give her the resources she needed to solve her concentrate problem. Edie needed help in writing a strong grant application to clearly communicate her vision. She began working with MTI’s Technical Assistance Program (TAP) team who provided the expertise needed to support her grant writing efforts. She also reached out to noted experts in her field and the University of Maine’s Food Science Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition. Both came on board to support her projects.

In 2008, Eldertide leveraged its first MTI Phase 0 grant of $5,000 for grant writing support, which helped her secure the first of six (SBIR) awards. Funding support from MTI and SBIR enabled Eldertide to develop elderberry production and nutraceutical products. SBIR funding helped enable the development of Eldertide’s proprietary technology that maintains the nutrient profile of Maine elderberries throughout the concentrate process.

Between 2007 and 2016 Eldertide received over $340K in MTI funding for product development, in addition to SBIR support necessary to move forward. In 2014, Eldertide was awarded the prestigious Small Business Administration’s Roland S. Tibbetts award for exemplifying the very best in SBIR achievements.

Today, the company’s most popular product, anthoimmuneTM organic elderberry syrup, is fully commercialized and available in markets throughout the United States. In follow-on SBIR awards, Eldertide is working with the Department of Defense to develop ration prototypes and move them into distribution chains.

With support from partners like MTI, Eldertide can continue to make a substantial impact on the nutraceuticals industry through scientific innovation. Although utilizing elderberries might not be the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to technology and the SBIR program, Eldertide demonstrates how technology can be used to optimize human health by integrating herbal traditions with scientific research.