By Lynn L. Bergeson
On September 18, 2019, the D.C. Women’s Business Center (WBC) and the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) will host the 2019 Just Ambitious Small Business Awards. The awards honor woman entrepreneurs who have demonstrated achievements, innovation, and vision in support of the District of Columbia’s small business community and economic vitality. WBC and NCRC are now accepting applications for the 2019 awards in the following categories:
- NCRC Community Engagement of the Year
- NCRC Youth Entrepreneur of the Year
- Environmental Entrepreneur of the Year
- Start-Up of the Year
- Veteran Woman-Owned Business of the Year
- Woman Empowerment Entrepreneur of the Year
- Womanpreneur Under 40 of the Year
Businesses can be nominated for multiple awards. WBC and NCRC encourage self-nominations. To qualify for the award, applicants must either be or nominate a registered business entity that has been in business for at least one full year. The business must be at least 51 percent woman-owned. Non-profits that devote a significant portion of time to assisting entrepreneurs may also apply. The deadline for application submissions is September 4, 2019, by close of business.
By Kathleen M. Roberts
On April 25, 2017, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Business-Cooperative Service published in the Federal Register a notice that it is requesting approval from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) of a revision to a currently approved information collection for the Advanced Biofuel Payment Program, which provides funding to eligible advanced biofuel producers to support the production of biofuel products. The Rural Business-Cooperative Service is specifically seeking comments on the following topics:
- Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information will have practical utility;
- The accuracy of the agency's estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used;
- Ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and
- Ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including the use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology.
Comments on this notice, which are due by June 26, 2017, will be summarized and included in the request for OMB approval.
On December 5, 2016, Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) launched the Aapli bus service, India’s first green bus service, in Nagpur, which includes five buses that will run on ethanol biofuel. Nitin Gadkari, the Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways, aims for Nagpur to be the first city to have all of its buses powered by biofuel through the addition of new green buses and the conversion of existing diesel-run buses. During the launch event at Yeshwant Stadium, Gadkari stated the plan was to produce ethanol from molasses, rice, wheat straw, and bamboo using manufacturing facilities in each of the six districts of the Nagpur division. Devendra Fadnavis, the Chief Minister of Maharashtra State, also attended the launch and stated that a similar model for a green bus service would be implemented in other major cities across the state.
On March 10, 2016, DOE's BETO announced that $1.9 million has been allocated for biofuel, bioproduct, and biopower projects under its Small Business Vouchers (SBV) Pilot initiative. The grant money is the first of up to $20 million that DOE has agreed to commit to help small businesses receive specialized assistance with their technologies. Under the SBV Pilot, eligible U.S.-owned small businesses with less than 500 employees can request a voucher for use at one of DOE's national laboratories, valued between $50,000 and $300,000. This allows small businesses to take advantage of the technological capability and know-how of DOE labs to help bring clean technologies to market.
The first round of vouchers included two companies working with microbes to convert sugars to valuable biochemicals. Visolis, Inc will work with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) to demonstrate the scale-up potential of their integrated bio-thermochemical conversion technology to produce bio-isoprene from lignocellulosic materials. Lygos will work with NREL and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) to test their fermentation pathway using engineered microbes to produce biobased malonic acid, an important chemical intermediary, at a larger scale. There are three rounds of the SBV Pilot program, with vouchers available for Algal Feedstocks R&D, Analysis and Sustainability, Conversion R&D, and Terrestrial Feedstock Logistics R&D. Applications for the second round of vouchers are being accepted from March 10 through April 10, 2016.
On February 29, 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced eight small business contracts through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program. The eight Phase II contracts provide the companies with $300,000 each to develop and commercialize innovative products that address environmental and public health issues. Phase II funding is typically made available to companies that have already been granted Phase I funding through the SBIR Program. This round of funding included two biobased businesses, Environmental Fuel Research, LLC, a company that is developing a system to produce biofuel from grease trap waste, and Sustainable Bioproducts, LLC, a company that is developing a low-cost, simple, and scalable microbial process for the conversion of organic municipal solid waste to fuels using fungus. The SBIR Program is open to for-profit U.S. businesses with fewer than 500 employees. Open solicitations for applicants are listed on the SBIR website, but applications for this specific program are currently closed.
DOE has developed a small business "All-in-one Application Tool" for small businesses looking for funds to advance clean energy technologies. The online tool provides a guide for potential applicants for the topics under the DOE Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. Among the nine topics identified by SBIR is bioenergy, with particular focus on biomass conversion systems, coatings for metal combustors, and solid-liquid separations for algal systems.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) issued an announcement for its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs, including the technology transfer opportunity, which focuses on small businesses' commercialization of intellectual property from DOE-funded laboratories and universities. Small businesses selected for the programs are allowed to maintain the rights to new technologies they develop, and are encouraged to transfer these technologies to the marketplace.