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Reducing produce waste via novel biopreservative ingredients

Award Information
Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
Branch: N/A
Contract: 68HERC23C0023
Agency Tracking Number: B234A-0004
Amount: $100,000.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: 4A
Solicitation Number: 68HERC22R0180
Solicitation Year: 2023
Award Year: 2023
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2022-12-01
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2023-05-31
Small Business Information
141 Flushing Ave. Suite 907
Brooklyn, NY 11205-1338
United States
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: No
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 Ravi Sheth
 Co-Founder and Chief Scientific Officer
 (513) 470-5728
Business Contact
 Kunal Malkani
Title: Director, Finance and Operations
Phone: (914) 953-6951
Research Institution

According to the USDA, 25% of the US fresh fruit supply at the consumer level is wasted, which equates to 9.5 billion pounds. To address consumer food waste, Imvela Corp. proposes to develop a novel, natural ingredient that reduces microbial spoilage and extends shelf life, when applied to berries after they are harvested. Our approach is innovative because we collect experimental data from a large, diverse set of naturally occurring organisms, and then use computational approaches to design novel microbial communities with synergistic properties. The power of this approach stems from our ability to rapidly explore a large design space (10s of thousands of organisms) and choose subsets of organisms with high performance properties. If awarded, we will comprehensively biobank key spoilage organisms from strawberry spoilage samples (TA1), develop and validate a screening assay compatible with key fungal spoilage organisms (SOs) that is predictive of the strawberry microenvironment (TA2), and screen our biobank for lead inhibitors of a range (at least 4) of key spoilage organisms, resulting in ~3-5 prioritized hits per spoilage organism (TA3). We expect the approach to be feasible since we have already validated our scientific platform through a patented Superculture ingredient called Monarck, and the ongoing development of a biopreservative solution for processed dairy products. A successful product will inhibit key strawberry spoilage organisms at least 25% more effectively than current solutions, with comparable dosing levels, similar pricing, and no impact on sensory or visual properties of the food. Unlike any other successful preservative on the market today, the product will be (1) clean label (i.e. natural) and not based on artificial chemicals (with the potential to be produced in an organic manner) (2) specifically designed for the strawberry microenvironment and strawberry SOs and (3) dependent on multiple mechanisms of action driving synergy and high performance in resulting spoilage prevention. Our direct customers will be post-harvest fresh produce processors and distributors and the product would ultimately help consumers prevent food waste through produce distribution to storage at home. The $1.5 billion biopreserve market indicates a high level of demand for such a product, and customer conversations have revealed that natural and clean label ingredients are a top priority.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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