Vermont Biosciences Alliance Winter Newsletter
Winter Newsletter
VBSA was created to foster recognition of medicine and bioscience as a leading industry in the Vermont region and promote economic and human well-being by strengthening sector attention, research resources, and venture growth. To the businesses and organizations who are currently members, thank you for supporting the bioscience industry in Vermont.
VBSA Virtual Networking Event

Meet Vermont-based start-up Full Circle Microbes on Thursday, March 18 at 5:00pm, online. Event details and registration will be posted on the VBSA events page closer to the date.

VtTA Tech Conference

The VTTA Tech Conference is a week-long, virtual forum to hear presentations on key technology topics and trends, learn about Vermont’s innovative businesses and technologies, explore job opportunities with Vermont tech companies, and network with Vermont’s tech community. March 1-5, online.

Check here for details: VTTA Tech Conference
Industry News
Partnerships Create Rapid Innovation During COVID-19 Crisis

The Vermont Manufacturing Extension Center looks at real examples of Vermont innovation in the face of COVID-related challenges. Whether it was a fast pivot or an unexpected opportunity, these stories reveal lessons in how to make the most of difficult situations.

Chroma Technology Names Dan Johnson As Chief Financial Officer

Chroma Technology welcomed a new CFO this fall as part of their continued growth. “It’s an exciting time to join Chroma,” says Johnson. “Chroma is expanding rapidly, has a great reputation, and was recently named one of the best places to work in Vermont.”

BioTek Releases Cytation 10 Confocal Microscope

BioTek Instruments, now a part of Agilent Technologies, announced the latest expansion to its imaging product line with the introduction of the Cytation 10 at this year’s Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening virtual annual meeting in January. The Cytation 10 is the first microscope from BioTek to incorporate confocal optics, a technology that allows researchers to capture higher resolution images of their samples. As with all BioTek products, the Cytation 10 was designed, developed, and will be manufacture in Winooski. The system also uses a laser from Williston-based, 89 North – a subsidiary of Chroma Technology. The Cytation 10 is a manifestation of the strong, and growing, optics and microscopy industry here in Vermont.
Education News
Are You Interested in Forming a Research Collaboration?

The Vermont Biomedical Research Network (VBRN) is invested in fostering collaborative research and helping develop connections among biomedical researchers across the state, including at VBRN baccalaureate partner institutions and the University of Vermont. To make it easier for researchers seeking collaborations to find each other VBRN has created a searchable collaboration directory. The directory contains contact information and research interests of investigators wishing to develop research partnerships with other scientists in Vermont. All Vermont faculty, postdocs, and scientists from government and industry involved in biomedical research are invited to join.

VSCS Announces Successful Workforce Initiative

The Vermont State College System made free trainings and courses available to 971 Vermonters starting in the fall under the Coronavirus Relief Fund Workforce Initiative. The Initiative was authorized by the state to address the COVID-related rise in unemployment that impacted many hardworking Vermonters.

ACPHS Will Close Operations on its Vermont Satellite Campus in June 2021

ACPHS will be regretfully closing their Vermont campus at the end of this spring semester after a trend in declining enrollment. Despite consolidating programs to the Albany campus, ACPHS hopes to maintain a presence and relationship with the Vermont health community. Regional Dean Jennifer Mathews stated, “we will strive to maintain a presence in Vermont with a select number of clinical rotation sites”.

Connect with VBSA

If you are interested in bioscience entrepreneurship in Vermont, join the VBSA! Expand your professional network and keep current on news and opportunities in bioscience right here in Vermont. Joining the VBSA sends a message of support for Vermont bioscience companies and organizations. Click here for more on the benefits of joining the VBSA and to sign up.
Call for News and Events

If your business has announcements, milestones, or projects they would like to share with the VBSA community, please get in touch with us! You can email your news and information to Rachel Sargent Mirus at

The VBSA is always interested in hosting new events! You can suggest seminar ideas to Rachel Sargent Mirus at
Introducing Full Circle Microbes
Here at the VBSA we’re always excited to meet new companies finding ways to use biotechnology to meet customer needs and solve big picture problems with a Vermont flair. We recently met Full Circle Microbes, a biotech start-up that develops microbial inoculants for turning agriculture waste into useful fertilizer.

Founder and CEO Charles Smith recognized a basic irony in modern agriculture: after all the effort to grow a crop, organic material from cultivated plants is discarded as waste if it isn’t part of the harvest. For some growers, like those in the burgeoning hemp industry, up to 95% of cultivated biomass is discarded, contributing to the agriculture sector’s 24% annual global contribution to atmospheric carbon.

As a young company, Full Circle Microbes is focusing their first inoculant product on cannabis, in part because of those high waste rates, but also because hemp cultivation itself is a young and blossoming industry. “We see ourselves as positioned to build environmentalism into the foundation of the hemp industry,” explains Smith. He saw hemp growers as natural allies with his environmental priorities because many are personally and professionally invested in an environmental ethic already.

Demonstrating that the Full Circle Microbes process and philosophy works for cannabis waste is a logical start because cannabis waste is especially difficult to breakdown. The stalks, which are often part of the waste stream, are high in tough-to-breakdown lignin. Yet locked in these same stalks is 80% of the nitrogen absorbed by the hemp plant, nitrogen that growers must provide one way or another.

Traditional thermophilic composting can take over a year to decompose hemp stalks in a process that is long and requires routine maintenance. Full Circle Microbes can turn this former waste into fertilizer in a matter of weeks with a process that is simple and largely hands-off. They recommend chipping the waste biomass, then inoculating with their optimized mix of microbes, then letting it sit for a few weeks. After that, the recycled material can be tilled back into the growing fields.

While Full Circle Microbes wants to provide a product to growers that increases their yield, reduces their carbon footprint, and is easy to apply, their underlying mission is to challenge the mentality of linear thinking that has dominated industrial agricultural practices. Smith summarizes that thought process as “buy, consume, discard”, and points out that it tends to generate piles of waste which, as defined by this linear logic, can’t be used. The Full Circle Microbes approach fundamentally questions the “waste” category by creating a circular relationship where resources are extracted from discarded biomass and reintroduced at the beginning of the growing cycle. Smith describes their circular concept as using modern technology to return to and improve traditional agricultural practices.

The VBSA will be hosting Full Circle Microbes at our first online networking event of 2021 on Thursday, March 18th. They’re looking forward to a discussion on how biotechnology can impact re-thinking the role of organic waste.

If your company is interested in a feature with the VBSA newsletter or speaking at one of our regular networking events, please email We are always interested in sharing the exciting work that is happening in biotechnology around Vermont!