The objective of this topic area is to improve the quality of life in rural America by creating and commercializing technologies that address important economic and social development issues or challenges in rural America. Projects must explicitly discuss the specific rural problem or opportunity that will be examined and how the proposed science-based technology will successfully address the problem or opportunity. Applications must also include an objective to assess the impacts of the proposed project on the environment or the socio-economic development of rural areas. The applications need not be centered on agriculture but may be focused on any area that has the potential to provide significant benefit to rural Americans. USDA seeks a balanced portfolio that appropriately mixes high risk, high reward innovations with new applications of existing technologies.