UNH small business program helps Portsmouth firm secure $150k in NOAA funding

FOSTER initiative aids NH small businesses in securing federal grants
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Portsmouth-based Nearview leveraged training provided through the University of New Hampshire to secure a NOAA grant to use drone technology to map intertidal vegetation. (Courtesy photo)

Portsmouth-based Nearview, a participant in the University of New Hampshire’s program to help small businesses grow by accessing federal grant funding, has received $150,000 from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to develop an artificial intelligence model for its aerial drone environmental services.

Nearview owner and principal scientist Stefan Claesson said his company’s participation in UNH Innovation’s FOSTER program – FOcused SBIR/STTR Teaching, Equity and Results — was key in winning the grant.

“From review of proposal narratives to hammering out budget details, they helped us to navigate a complex application process,” Claesson said.

The FOSTER program was created as way of increasing the number of small New Hampshire businesses, particularly those in under-served communities, that successfully compete for research and development funding from the federal Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. Historically, only a handful of New Hampshire small businesses have received such grants.

The program offers free services such as grant identification, training, advice and proposal support. Since its launch in 2020, FOSTER has provided training to approximately 45 New Hampshire companies and awarded seven Granite State businesses microgrants for additional proposal development assistance.

Nearview deploys small unmanned aerial systems with advanced remote sensing capabilities and offers surveying, mapping, analysis and monitoring to organizations and individuals. It specializes in supporting natural resource management, alternative energy initiatives, infrastructure projects, cultural research and environmental justice campaigns.

The company’s NOAA grant supports developing an artificial intelligence model that will automate detection and mapping of intertidal vegetation. The project will help users – including conservation groups, government agencies, municipalities, and environmental scientists — make better decisions to ensure the sustainability of resources and build resilient coastal communities in the face of climate change, sea-level rise and other human impacts such as coastal development, pollution and overharvesting of resources.

FOSTER, open to New Hampshire technology businesses with fewer than 500 employees, has a mandate to support underserved communities such as women- and minority-owned businesses, rural as well as socially and economically disadvantaged companies.