Funding Opportunity: USDA NIFA announces I-FAST Competition

Lewis-Burke Associates LLC – August 18, 2017

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) has announced the pre-application open period for the Innovations in Food and Agricultural Science and Technology (I-FAST) Prize Competition.  The I-FAST Competition is a partnership between NIFA and the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Innovation Corps (I-Corps) program that seeks to identify valuable commercial opportunities that can emerge from NIFA supported academic research.

Similar to the NSF I-Corps program, the I-FAST competition prize provides support, over a six-month period, for a previously funded research effort to transition fundamental agricultural research to the commercial market, encourage collaboration between academia and industry, and to train students to understand innovation and entrepreneurship.  The main component is the I-FAST Team, made up of a principal investigator, entrepreneurial lead, and a mentor.  The entrepreneurial lead is intended to be a postdoctoral researcher, graduate student, or other student focused on commercializing the innovation.  The mentor, who should be from a third party, should have prior experience commercializing products related to the technology area of the specific project.

Due Dates: Potential applicant teams must submit a three-page pre-application to through the portal by 12:00AM ET on Friday, September 8. NIFA will evaluate pre-applications and conduct interviews from September 11 to September 14. If selected, teams will then submit full applications by 12:00AM on Friday, October 6. Teams are advised to register on at least one day in advance of the pre-application due date.


Total Funding and Award Size:  NIFA anticipates awarding a maximum total of $400,000, which will be divided among eight teams for a potential $50,000 per awardee.  All members of winning teams are required to participate in multiple training sessions and activities throughout the six-month program.  More information can be found at

 Eligibility and Limitations: I-FAST Competition is open to teams of individuals from universities and academic institutions that have received a prior award from NIFA.

 Sources and Additional Background:

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