Called Grower’s Risk Assessment Biomarkers Investigative Tool, or GRABIT, the challenge was designed to stimulate the development of science-based approaches to support the broader critical knowledge needs in produce safety risk identification, risk intervention, and high-density data development associated with the domesticated animal-specialty crop interface, according to Bonnie Fernandez-Fenaroli, CPS executive director.
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She describes GRABIT as a modified version of the annual CPS call for research grant applications that is intended to pursue food safety ideas that will be most valuable and timely for the produce industry.
“GRABIT is not a tool to look for pathogens, but rather a tool to search for evidence of chronic or acute pathogen transfer factors from domesticated animal point sources,” Fernandez-Fenaroli relates. “With GRABIT innovation cash awards, CPS is offering opportunities for technology innovators to develop, refine, and focus their solutions to meet the current critical industry need of identifying evidence or conditions where cross-contamination can take place in produce growing environments.”
Up to $500,000 is available in three GRABIT award categories. Prime Time Ready includes four awards of $75,000 each. Solid Proof of Potential features five awards of $30,000 each, and Promising Proof of Concept offers 10 awards of $10,000 each. (Not all categories may be awarded; awards will be based on merit and industry readiness.)
“In order to receive the Prime Time Ready award, technology must be ready to use or very nearly ready,” Fernandez-Fenaroli explains. “This is not an award to investigate an idea, but to bring promising tools to fruition quickly,” she emphasizes.
Applications for GRABIT awards are due on April 22, 2019, by noon Pacific Daylight Time. Applicants must submit a five-page narrative describing the innovation, rationale for biomarker(s) selection, and proof of concept or alpha-test proof of functionality. Awards will be announced at the 2019 CPS Research Symposium scheduled June 18 and 19 in Austin, Texas.
Anyone from industry or academia is welcome to apply for the GRABIT awards. “In particular, we would like to reach out to technology developers, including, but not limited to, sensor, digital data capture, and management innovators,” Fernandez-Fenaroli elaborates.
CPS leadership anticipates that the outcomes of this competitive award-based innovation and development challenge will include a diverse set of grower-oriented and, ideally, on-farm deployed tools, everything from solid proof-of-concept to pre-commercial beta-test ready kits, Fernandez-Fenaroli notes.
“The GRABIT challenge is the first of a multipart effort CPS has undertaken to address the priority research needs of the fresh produce supply chain,” she says. “GRABIT awards are designed to bring tools to the supply chain to manage risk. To that end, we are happy to talk with potential applicants about industry practices so that there is a clear understanding of day-to-day operations. We believe the program meets the CPS mission: ‘Fund the science, find solutions and fuel the change.’”