A small business in Northwest Arkansas has received a $100,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture with assistance from the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center based at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
GSS (Grow-Supply-Sustain) Group LLC of Bella Vista won a Small Business Innovation Research grant to produce a vertical hydroponic design that can grow crops alongside horizontal hydroponic systems, or in a window.
In hydroponics, plants are grown in sand, gravel or liquid with added nutrients but without soil. Existing hydroponic producers can benefit from the market-ready apparatus by using it to maximize their greenhouse capacity to grow more crops in more spaces.
The GSS Group emphasizes sustainability in every aspect of business and promotes social responsibility through its reduce and reuse policies.
GSS Group President Danielle Dozier studied at the University of Arkansas, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in horticulture sciences in 2015.
“During my college years, I made friends from Africa, India, and other Eastern countries,” she said in a news release. “I began to see a need for sustainable food production in these population-dense areas that are going through major urbanization revolutions. God then came to me and instilled purpose. I must do something, even small, to do my part.”
The Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs are specifically designed to support small business innovations with high commercial potential.
The ASBTDC provides ongoing consulting, market research and education for entrepreneurs and companies interested in conducting new research to move their innovative ideas to market through the SBIR/STTR program.
According to a news release, Dozier said she will use the grant to hire an engineer experienced with water apparatuses and another employee who is experienced with computer-aided design and can operate a large-format 3D printer.
“My team is small but fierce. I have dedicated my life to this food production method and to progressing the efficiency and sustainability of hydroponics,” Dozier said.