Dr. Gabriel Burks, vice president and head of research and development of EnterpriseWorks startup FrostDefense Envirotech, recently delivered testimony in front of the United States House of Representatives Small Business Committee to advocate for more federal investment in programs that support innovation and entrepreneurship.
“Our major successes as a company have come as a direct result of timely funding and support from several sources, including the university, incubator, private and federal,” Burks said.
EnterpriseWorks won funding in 2019 from the Small Business Administration’s Growth Accelerator Fund Competition to support the AWARE Proof of Concept program. The SBA innovation initiative provided $50,000 grants.
FrostDefense applied and received funding from the incubator to support research and development critical to the advancement of the company’s frost prevention and mitigation technology.
The award allowed the company to pivot at a critical time in its development.
“At the time of the award, our company had recently completed a field trial, where we did not obtain the results that we expected. What we did discover what we thought would be several key factors moving forward,” Burks said.
“AWARE funding allowed us to quickly test our new hypotheses over a three-month time period, and develop a new version of our product that we found to be a success shortly after.
“That success would go on to serve as the backbone for our petition for new funding.”
FrostDefense subsequently applied for, and received, an SBIR Phase I Award from the National Science Foundation.
Late spring frost causes more economic loss to agriculture than any other climate-related hazards, costing growers more than $10 billion annually, Burks said.
FrostDefense‘s technology minimizes the impact of frost on delicate fruit. Its first target is grapes.
Burks’ testimony starts around the 42-minute mark of the session, done remotely via videoconference, and lasts for about five minutes. View the video below or see it here.