EPA Awards $300,000 Small Business Innovation Grant for Berkeley, Calif. Entrepreneur’s Portable Test for Cyanotoxins in Toxic Algae Blooms

SAN FRANCISCO – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a $300,000 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant to HJ Science & Technology, Inc. in Berkeley, Calif. to build a portable instrument to analyze cyanotoxins in surface waters to help protect people from potentially harmful toxic algal blooms in lakes and rivers.

“Supporting the growth of environmental small businesses in California grows the economy and helps protect the health of our communities,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “SBIR provides an avenue for entrepreneurs like HJ Science & Technology to create green products and bring them to the marketplace.”

When severe algae blooms occur in lakes and other waters, they can produce hazardous levels of cyanotoxins that can threaten the health of people and wildlife. Cyanotoxin levels are typically measured by collecting samples in the field and bringing them back to a laboratory for analysis, which can be time consuming and cost prohibitive. HJ Science & Technology is building a portable “lab-on-a-chip” instrument for monitoring and detection of cyanotoxins in the field. The company will field test the new instrument at Pinto Lake, a popular recreational spot near Santa Cruz, which has been plagued with seasonal toxic algal blooms. Toxic cyanobacteria blooms also threaten other waterways, including the Klamath River and its reservoirs, Clear Lake in northern Calif., Lake Temescal in Oakland, the San Francisco Bay Delta, and some reservoirs in southern Calif.

The SBIR program provides funding in two phases. In Phase I, companies submit proposals and, after undergoing a competitive selection process, can receive up to $100,000 for proof of concept. Successful Phase I companies can participate in Phase II through a second competitive process to receive up to $300,000 for two years.

More information on the SBIR Phase II awards: www.epa.gov/ncer/2014SBIRphase2awards

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