Expanding Uses of Seaweed
Grants Received:U.S. Department of Agriculture SBIR Phase I and II awards
The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs provide competitive awards-based resources to enable small businesses to develop new technologies and facilitate the commercialization of innovation. $2.5 billion of funding is made each year by SBIR/STTR Federal Agencies including the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy, NASA, the National Science Foundation, USDA, and others.
MTI has aided many Maine businesses with their applications for SBIR/STTR grants. VitaminSea is a recent Success Story.
Founded over 25 years ago, family-run VitaminSea harvests and creates healthy and nutritious products from seaweed. They were awarded an SBIR Phase I award by the USDA to prove the feasibility of kelp meal (latissima or “sugar kelp”) as a viable, cost-effective and nutritious additive for low-moisture foods (specifically bread). Once commercialized, the manufacture and distribution of VitaminSea’s kelp meal will support local suppliers and the Maine seaweed industry.
Receiving their first SBIR grant opened up untapped markets, allowing them to finance more testing and research, and expanded their knowledge of what their products could do. VitaminSea recommends that anyone applying for an SBIR/STTR grant makes sure to maintain focus and have an original idea, not a “cookie-cutter” project. They used Maine resources including MTI, the University of Maine at Orono, the Island Institute, the Atlantic Corporation, and local bakeries and grant writers to win their first award and to submit their recently awarded follow-on Phase II proposal.