GSS Group has been working hard to bring a new product to market. The small company was awarded $100,000 from the USDA SBIR program to conduct research on a new hydroponic tower design. The R&D is taking place at North Arkansas College in Harrison, Arkansas. The college was really receptive to the start-up and has been a great partnership thus far! To conduct the research, a large-format 3D printer needed to be purchased so the design could be tested. 3ders.org, a 3D printer review website, explains:
"Leonard Dodd, a designer, engineer and fabricator, has developed an innovative 3D Printer that works directly with granules of plastic. Dodd's ErectorBot (Bot that erects) uses the gantry design similar as the other desktop 3D printers. The design allows him to utilize the entire length of the machine with a gantry that travels the entire "Y" axis. When the model grows or collects weight, the dynamics do not change and therefore no additional stress or vibrations as the result."
GSS Group will utilize this 3D printer to produce up to 30 apparatuses to be tested. The printer will also be used to make improvements to the design for manufacture efficiency. After the USDA SBIR program is complete, the printer will be used by the company's R&D team. GSS Group has made a commitment to advancing the Horticulture industry by developing technologies in the form of products and/or services. The start-up is actively seeking partnerships and collaboration opportunities with organization that have similar missions.
"Collaboration has been key for this company's current success and we look forward to future partnerships." says Danielle Dozier (CEO). The USDA SBIR program has saved the company from going into major debt or loosing equity from investor buy-ins. The Arkansas Small Business Development Center in Little Rock Arkansas helped this start-up write its first grant proposal that was submitted last year in October. Six months later, GSS Group was given notice of award. Danielle recalls the phone call, "I was working in Texas when the phone rang. A gentleman with an African accent was on the other line. He informed me that I had won, but I was speechless. I asked if he would email me so I could thank him properly in an email. He laughed, congratulated me once more, and hung up the phone. I then dropped to me knees and prayed." That gentleman delivering the grand news was Dr. Denis Ebodaghe, National Program Leader for Small Farms for the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
The company will forever be grateful for this award. GSS Group understands that this is a "high-risk" project and could result in failure. The CEO explains, "It isn't about making a million dollar product, this is about trying to push the standards for hydroponic product optimization. Even if this product tests out to be non-beneficial to the farmer, we will continue to research and develop other possible avenues to maximize production potential on small farms." GSS encourages readers to be apart of this journey by engaging in the Facebook page or contacting the company to find out how they can be involved.