This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project deals with the science of fermentation which to date has not been integrated into teaching laboratory activities. While molecular biology is an important aspect of biotechnology, thus far other aspects of biotechnology such as fermentation technology have not been incorporated into science curricula. The following are the main objectives of this project: (1) to research and design classroom laboratory bioreactors; (2) to interface bioinformatics and fermentation technology; (3) to develop problem-based fermentation experiments; and (4) to assess the pedagogy of fermentation resources to be researched. The intention is not to duplicate existing microbiology activities, but rather to develop fermentation experiments that fit the proposed bioreactor strategy. Equally important, the experiments to be researched will provide real world "beginning to end" biological problems instead of reagents out of bottles.
There is a significant business opportunity since currently no equivalent commercially available fermentation bioreactors are available for science education. There is research grade equipment, but such equipment is not affordable for the education market. The company's customers are high school teachers and undergraduate college faculty. These customers are also potential customers for fermentation bioreactors and related products. The proposed fermentation product would broaden the current offerings and increase sales.