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Small Business in Topsfield, Mass. Receives $300,000 Grant to Develop Air Quality Monitoring Equipment

Release Date: 08/21/2012
Contact Information: David Deegan, (617) 918-1017

(Boston, Mass. – Aug. 21, 2012) – A business in Topsfield, Mass. was among seven businesses nationwide to win a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to develop and commercialize technology that helps protect the environment.

OPTRA Inc. Topsfield, Mass, received $299,956 for its air quality monitoring equipment from EPA’s Small Business Innovation and Research program. The air quality monitoring system will allow for the detection of a broader range of compounds and at a much lower level than previously available.

"This novel approach to air quality monitoring increases the number of compounds we can simultaneously detect at trace levels," said Julia Rentz Dupuis, chief technology officer at OPTRA. "The overall approach represents a more versatile solution than conventional methods."

“Small businesses are key to a strong economy in our towns and cities,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. “OPTRA is helping find new ways protect our environment, developing green jobs, and exploring innovation and technology solutions to environmental issues.”

The Small Business program awarded seven contracts to small businesses across the nation to develop new technologies to keep the environment clean and healthy. Companies won the contracts through the highly competitive annual Small Business Innovation Research program competition, which encourages small businesses to explore and develop environmental technologies from concept to commercialization.

The winning companies submitted their innovative ideas during the first phase of the SBIR competition in 2011, and received SBIR Phase I contracts of up to $80,000 to develop their concepts into technologies addressing key environmental areas. Winning the SBIR Phase I competition made these companies eligible to apply to the program’s Phase II competition this year. As Phase II recipients, these companies have received around $300,000 to further develop their technologies for the market place.

In the last 10 years this program has funded more than 200 small companies. One such company, Ecovative Design, leveraged its funding to get $6 million in capital investment funding.  Ecovative Design develops biologically-based substitutes for polystyrene packaging and sustainable insulation. For packaging, Ecovative uses locally available waste, such as rice and soybean hulls as filler inside custom grown mushroom roots that can be made into a customizable shape to fit each customer’s particular need.

The other six Phase II recipients announced recently include:

• FBS, Inc., Pennsylvania for technology addressing detection of defects in water pipelines using ultrasonic guided waves
• Lynntech, Inc., Texas, for developing automated, field deployable environmental monitors that promote clean up strategies for restoring contaminated sites to productive use
• TDA Research, Inc., Colorado, for technology using waste gas from anaerobic digesters on farms to generate energy while preventing groundwater contamination and decreasing greenhouse gas emissions
• Advanced Diamond Technologies, Inc., Illinois, for technology treating new types of contaminants in drinking water
• Adherent Technologies, Inc., New Mexico, for a pollution control technology reducing particulate pollution emitted by outdoor wood-fired boilers by more than 50 percent
• Faraday Technology, Inc., Ohio, for a drop-in green chrome plating process that replaces conventional carcinogenic plating technology

In addition to OPTRA, three small businesses from New England received smaller grants earlier this year to develop technologies that help the environment. These companies were GVD Corp. of Cambridge, Mass., Aerodyne Research, Inc. of Billerica, Mass. and Orono Spectral Solutions, Inc., of Bangor, Maine. They were among 25 companies awarded contracts in Phase I of the annual competition.

To participate in the program, a company must be an organized, for-profit U.S. business and have fewer than 500 employees. Phase I awards may be up to $80,000 and Phase II awards up to $300,000.

More information on program eligibility: http://www.epa.gov/ncer/sbir

More information on the 2012 Phase II SBIR recipients: http://www.epa.gov/ncer/sbir12ph2

More information on the SBIR Program: http://www.SBIR.gov

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