Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Susan Collins and Angus King today announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) awarded a $600,000 grant to VitaminSea LLC, a family-owned seaweed harvesting and processing company based in Buxton. The Phase II grant, which was awarded through the USDA’s Small Business Innovation Research Program, will fund real world market testing for larger scale commercialization of VitaminSea’s seaweed products.
In October 2016, Senators Collins and King wrote a letter in support of VitaminSea’s grant application and in October 2017, the Senators announced that VitaminSea was awarded $100,000 for Phase I in the Small Business Innovation Research Program.
“Small businesses are the backbone of Maine’s economy, and helping them to reach their growth potential strengthens Maine’s economy and creates new employment opportunities, particularly in our rural communities,” said Senators Collins and King. “We commend the USDA for recognizing the importance of fostering promising business ventures and innovation that support Maine jobs.”
The Small Business Innovation Research Program encourages the growth of domestic small businesses by offering competitively awarded grants to support high-quality research related to important scientific problems and opportunities in agriculture. These small business ventures are recognized as having the potential for larger scale commercialization as well as benefits to the community at large.
VitaminSea harvests seaweed from Maine sources and creates health products from the seaweed, including animal food, nutritional supplements, plant fertilizers, and skin care products. The company plans to use the grant to explore the market potential of kelp as a nutritional supplement and natural preservative. The commercialization of kelp has the potential to positively impact coastal communities across Maine.