SoilSerdem, ISU Startup Factory Cohort 9 member, receives $1 million NSF Phase II SBIR award

By: Lindsey Murray

SoilSerdem receives $1 million NSF Phase II SBIR award to continue the development of high-quality soil mapping technology for agronomists and farmers across the nation.

AMES, Iowa (September 12, 2023) – Last month, through BioConnect Iowa’s America’s Seed Fund Outreach Program, SoilSerdem won a $1M National Science Foundation (NSF) SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) Phase II award.

At SoilSerdem, Yones Khaledian (Founder and CEO) and Daniel Linton (Vice President and CTO) are developing a soil mapping technology that produces high-resolution maps based on the principles of soil science. This technology allows for more efficient and cost-effective soil management that will result in better land usage, crop production, and a host of other benefits. The end goal for Linton and Khaledian is to make informatics (collection, management, and mapping) accessible to agronomists and farmers alike.

America’s Seed Fund powered by NSF awards $200 million annually to startups and small businesses transforming scientific discovery into products and services with commercial and societal impact. SoilSerdem was able to prepare a competitive proposal for this award with 100% paid-for proposal assistance from BioConnect Iowa, among other funding, which won Phase I and Phase II non-dilutive funding from NSF. “It has been an adventure to watch SoilSerdem grow as a company and obtain validation for their technology from the National Science Foundation,” said Anne McMahon, SBIR/STTR Statewide Program Coordinator. “From the initial Phase I application to NSF for feasibility studies to the impacts the field trials will have on their overall business, I am most looking forward to them partnering with a larger company and selling off their technology when ready.”

The proposal successfully demonstrated SoilSerdem’s ability to advance knowledge and understanding within and beyond its own field and utilize transformative concepts to benefit other aspects of society. Additionally, it highlighted the potential for the SoilSerdem technology to lead to significant outcomes in the commercial market.

“The NSF award really lets us stay true to our vision, translating our knowledge from university to the market,” said Khaledian. With respect to their soil informatics service, “our goal at SoilSerdem is to meet landowners/operators where they are and be ready for them when they take the next step in precision management,” said Linton.

Since 2019, SoilSerdem has participated in ISU I-Corps, National I-Corps, ISU Startup Factory incubator (cohort 9), ISU Venture Mentoring Services, and the Iowa Go-To-Market accelerator. They have raised over $1.3 million in non-dilutive state and federal seed funding and continue to pursue opportunities for growth. SoilSerdem focuses on large crop production (corn/soybean) and is now expanding its scope into other cropping systems with the help of the NSF award, including potatoes, cotton, and wheat.