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U.S. EPA awards $300,000 to East Bay small business that harnesses microbes for green chemistry

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Michele Huitric (

SAN FRANCISCO- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded $300,000 to Industrial Microbes, Inc., located in Emeryville, Calif., for its innovative work aimed at making chemical manufacturing more efficient and less polluting. The company is one of nine small businesses nationwide receiving a total of nearly $2.7 million to develop and commercialize new environmental technologies.

Industrial Microbes received the funding to develop a microbe that, by consuming carbon dioxide and methane, produces a chemical used to make synthetic fibers and biodegradable plastics. The company’s fermentation process uses engineered cells in a process similar to brewing beer.

“Industrial Microbes’ low-cost biological technology is a great example of a Bay Area company leading the way in green chemistry,” said Alexis Strauss, EPA's Acting Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “Small businesses are essential in ensuring a sustainable future for our country.”

“More efficient green chemical manufacturing is a win for companies, consumers, and the environment,” said Derek Greenfield, CEO of Industrial Microbes. “We are excited that the EPA is funding the future of advanced manufacturing so that the U.S. can continue to be a leader in this field.”

EPA's Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program funds small businesses developing green technologies that protect the environment. In 2015, each of the nine companies received a SBIR Phase I contract for up to $100,000 for “proof of concept” of its proposed technology. After successfully completing Phase I, the companies were eligible to apply for a Phase II contract of up to $300,000 to develop and commercialize their technology for the marketplace. This year's Phase II recipients are focusing on technology development in the areas of air and climate, toxic chemicals, water and building materials.

EPA is one of 11 federal agencies that participate in the SBIR Program established by the Small Business Innovation Development Act of 1982.

Information about the EPA SBIR Phase II awards:

Information about the EPA SBIR Program:

Information about the SBIR Program across the federal government:

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