States with lots of farms and fields are making more grants available to businesses through a program funded primarily by the National Science Foundation. It's called EPSCoR (don't ask), and is designed to foster scientific research in rural areas. But in 15 states, businesses are also eligible for grants. Rules differ from state to state. South Carolina lets you do virtually anything with its grants, which run between $3,000 and $20,000. Vermont, however, prefers that "companies do those first couple of crucial experiments or buy a piece of equipment," says Christopher Allen, who runs EPSCoR there. Charlotte Gruner of Casper, Wyo., used the $5,000 she received in 2000 to attend a conference for grant writers. The founder of software company Pronghorn Scientific, who has since received more than $1 million in additional federal grants, says, "It's quite a procedure and I don't know if I would have gotten other funding" without EPSCoR's initial help.
Sep 1, 2003