Pure Biomass, Inc. Awarded Competitive Grant from the National Science Foundation

Small Business Innovation Research Program Provides Seed Funding for R&D; Helps small businesses move innovations out of the lab and into the market


Encinitas, CA, 4/01/2017 – Pure Biomass, Inc. has been awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II grant for $765,000.00 to commercialize innovative technology by conducting research and development (R&D) work on their next-generation, algae, photobioreactors and production process. This new grant is awarded based on the successful results of the company’s earlier $150,000 SBIR Phase I award, demonstrating proof-of-concept.  

While the idea of an algae-based manufacturing platform for renewable oils, nutraceuticals, chemicals, and feedstuffs remains a tantalizing prospect, much development and innovation are still required to further reduce costs (including capital, operating, and environmental), increase productivity, and to improve the accessibility of the technology to not only large-scale producers but also to small-scale farmers. This is where Pure Biomass hopes to step in—with the development of their new TriPAR algae production platform, which includes innovations in photobioreactor design, cultivation method, and harvest procedure.  Specific advantages of the TriPAR system include: reduced dependence on concentrated CO2, elimination of the need for an active temperature control system (i.e. lower energy requirements), greater water utilization efficiency, reduced biofilm formation (for greater light penetration and higher productivity), reduced cost of algae harvest, and better management of culture sterility. 

While typical algal cultivation methods, like flat-panel and tubular reactors, rely on low-volume, high-density cell growth, Pure Biomass is focused on the science of high-volume, low-density algal cultivation to promote better culture stability, achieve greater productivity, and minimize operating costs. In addition, the company’s emphasis on low cost and modular design will allow the process to be easily replicated on a variety of lands with otherwise marginal value. As such, Pure Biomass believes the system can become the basis for a robust aquaculture and biofuels industry, leading to greater economic development in marginal communities and a source of sustainable products for the growing world population. 

“The National Science Foundation supports small businesses with the most innovative, cutting-edge ideas that have the potential to become great commercial successes and make huge societal impacts,” says Graciela Narcho, NSF acting director of the Division of Industrial Innovation and Partnerships. “We hope that this seed funding will spark solutions to some of the most important challenges of our time across all areas of science and technology.”

Small businesses can receive up to $1.5 million in funding from NSF. Companies must first have received a Phase I award (up to $225,000) to become eligible to apply for a Phase II grant (up to $750,000) to further develop and commercialize the technology. Small businesses with Phase II grants are eligible to receive up to $500,000 in additional matching funds with qualifying third-party investment or sales.

“This NSF funding has allowed us to create a functional work environment and draw together an incredibly talented team, fit to redirect the aquaculture industry and make algae-based bio-products more affordable and accessible on a global scale,” says George Vozhdayev, company founder and CEO, “We are truly grateful for this opportunity to bring our creative ideas to life.”

Small businesses with innovative science and technology solutions, and commercial potential across almost all areas of technology are encouraged to apply. All proposals submitted to the NSF SBIR/STTR program undergo a rigorous merit-based review process. NSF’s deadlines for Phase I small business proposals are twice annually in June and December.

To learn more about the NSF SBIR/STTR program, visit: www.nsf.gov/SBIR.

About the National Science Foundation's Small Business Programs: The National Science Foundation (NSF) awards nearly $190 million annually to startups and small businesses through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)/Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program, transforming scientific discovery into products and services with commercial and societal impact. The non-dilutive grants support research and development (R&D) across almost all areas of science and technology helping companies de-risk technology for commercial success. The NSF is an independent federal agency with a budget of about $7 billion that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering.