Research Foundation News

October 3, 2017

Spero Energy gains $100,000 competitive grant from U.S. Department of Agriculture to advance biobased products

Klein Spero Ian Klein, Spero Energy senior scientist, holds a vial of renewable, biobased chelates that could be used to increase crop production and yields. Spero Energy has received a $100,000 Small Business Innovation Research grant from the USDA to advance this technology. (Photo provided by Spero Energy) Download image

Small Business Innovation Research Program Provides Seed Funding for R&D 

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. and WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Spero Energy Inc. has received a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant for $100,000 to conduct research and development to increase the availability and competitiveness of biobased products within the agricultural market.

Spero Energy developed a series of renewable, biobased chelates, which are molecules used to bind essential micronutrients and deliver them efficiently to a variety of crops. Effective use of biobased chelates is shown to increase crop production and yields.

“A major limitation within the agricultural chelates market is the lack of high-performing and cost-competitive biodegradable chelates. The patent-pending chelates we have developed at Spero are created using natural materials, and are designed to be both high-performing and biodegradable,” said Ian Klein Ph.D., Spero Energy senior scientist. “This funding will allow us to finalize the formulation of our biodegradable chelates, increase the scale of the reactions, and further prepare for commercialization.”

The Small Business Innovation Research program at the U.S. Department of Agriculture offers competitively awarded grants to qualified small businesses to support high-quality research related to important scientific problems and opportunities in agriculture that could lead to significant public benefits. Once a small business receives a Phase I SBIR/STTR grant, it becomes eligible to apply for a Phase II grant of up to $600,000.

Spero Energy developed the technology in the Purdue Research Park of West Lafayette. Spero Energy has licensed other technologies through the Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization. Spero Energy originated as a Purdue startup and the company incorporated in Indiana. To learn more, visit

About Spero Energy

Spero Energy Inc. is developing cost competitive processes for the conversion of abundant non-food biomass to high value chemicals (HVCs) and renewable fuels. With its experienced research and business team, Spero Energy has developed processes for a range of renewable chemicals targeting the flavor, fragrance, and agricultural industries. Our initial lignin-derived flavor and fragrance chemicals target a multi-billion dollar market segment. The opportunities and applications of Spero's lignin-free cellulose and xylose products are enormous and include large volume commodity chemicals as well as biofuels. The company has offices in Thousand Oaks, Calif. and West Lafayette, Ind. 

Media contact: Cynthia Sequin, Purdue Research Foundation, 765-588-3340,

Source: Ian Klein, 715-572-7209,

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