Swimming with the Sharks

By Jim JohnsonShark swimming alone in a tank

The halls of EPA have been full of Shark-talk lately—or should I say Shark Tank.  Folks have been emailing around a clip from the hit show where a company named Pitt Moss, which developed a fertilizer alternative to peat moss, was funded $600K by investors.  Not only was it great to see a company trailblazing a new market which at the same time protects vital wetlands and the environment—I was thrilled to learn that EPA actually funded early stages of this product and company through our Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contracts.  And Pitt Moss is not an outlier—EPA helps many great, environmentally-minded business ventures with potential, get the funding they need to get started.

With support from EPA’s SBIR Program, GVD Corporation created an environmentally friendly mold-release coating that makes indoor air healthier in manufacturing facilities by reducing the use of harmful chemicals. Okeanos Technologies, a recipient of one of EPA’s SBIR awards, is developing and testing a new energy-efficient seawater desalination technology that could provide “clean, cheap and plentiful water for everyone, anywhere”. The technology will cut costs to a point where desalination can take place off-grid, allowing it to be used where it’s needed most.

Solicitations for the next round of SBIR are now open. I can’t wait to see the innovations small businesses will bring to the table this time!  Shark Tank beware!

About the Author: Dr. James H. Johnson Jr. is the Director of EPA’s National Center for Environmental Research. NCER supports leading edge extramural research in exposure, effects, risk assessment, and risk management by managing competitions for Science to Achieve Results and People, Prosperity and the Planet grants, STAR and Greater Research Opportunities Fellowships, and for research contracts under the Small Business Innovative Research Program.


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