Inventherm recently received a $650,000 Phase 2 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to develop its innovative Cremmjoy Soft-Serve Ice Cream Machine for use in the restaurant and retail sector. Among the 34 companies awarded SBIR Phase 2 awards nationwide, Inventherm is the only company from Louisiana.
Dr. Jason Hugenroth, President and CEO of Inventherm and founder of Cremmjoy shared, “We are thrilled to receive this Phase 2 funding to help us advance our soft serve technology towards an initial design for manufacturing. In addition to the funding, this grant symbolizes a great vote of confidence from the USDA in support of our technology, our commitment to food safety, and our commercialization plans. With this funding, along with several significant private investments, we are excited to develop the Cremmjoy technology and provide a superior alternative to the conventional machines on the market.”
“The projects we’re supporting demonstrate scientific originality, technical feasibility and strong commercial potential,” said Acting NIFA Director Dr. Dionne Toombs. “With this research, our small business partners are helping solve some of our most vexing agricultural problems.”
In 2021, Inventherm was one of only 11 U.S. small businesses and the only Louisiana business awarded UDSA-NIFA Phase 1 funding (a $100,000 grant). To qualify for the Phase 2 award, grant applicants must be a recipient of a Phase 1 grant. The USDA-NIFA funding is bolstered by funding from private equity investors.
In addition to helping Inventherm advance the Cremmjoy technology, the Phase 2 grant provides funding for Inventherm to conduct essential food safety studies, develop safe operating guidelines, and further develop the commercialization plan.
Chief Development Officer for Inventherm and Cremmjoy, Danny Fields, shares, “This disruptive technology solves the number one pain point in a technologically stagnant industry. USDA-NIFA’s impactful funding helps us improve the foodservice industry and accelerates our launch on domestic and international markets.”
Conventional soft serve ice cream, frozen yogurt and frozen beverage machines have historically been a challenge for foodservice operators globally because they require disassembly, cleaning, and sanitizing to keep the product safe for consumption. Operators must disconnect the machines and mark as out-of-service while they disassemble, clean, and sanitize all parts of the machine that contact liquid mix or frozen product. Inventherm’s Cremmjoy soft serve machines eliminate the disassembly, cleaning, and sanitization (DCS) process while producing safe, contamination-free soft-serve, and slashing annual operating costs by several thousand dollars per machine.
“Cremmjoy machines freeze and dispense soft-serve ice cream from proprietary packaging. From liquid mix through dispensing, the soft serve mix never touches any part of the machine,” said Hugenroth. “This innovation eliminates the need for machine disassembly, cleaning, and sanitizing by restaurants and retailers and dispenses the safest-to-eat, premium quality ice cream or slush products to consumers.”
Improperly cleaned soft serve ice cream machines are a known significant contributor to foodborne illnesses worldwide. Studies indicate that unsatisfactory levels of bacterial contamination can be present in up to 50% of the soft serve ice cream machines in use globally. Contamination issues are due largely to the complex and costly DCS process required for all machines currently on the market. The DCS process can cost businesses thousands of dollars for each machine per year in wasted product, labor, and supplies.
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