Research into problems associated with chicken litter could be assisted by the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI), an SDLP MLA said, on 26 November 2012.
Patsy McGlone explained that the concept behind the SBRI was to use public service procurement to drive business development.
Mr McGlone said the scheme was not covered by EU "safe haven" rules as it was based on procurement rather than investment.
He added that there was a need for a change in procurement culture.
Maeve McLaughlin of Sinn Fein said any project that supported small enterprises must be explored and exploited.
She added that the first SBRI competition had been to develop a mobile app for the Northern Ireland Tourist Board.
Sandra Overend of the UUP said her party was certainly supportive of the motion, and Anna Lo of Alliance said it was obvious that MLAs should support it.
The Green Party's Steven Agnew said MLAs should all act as champions for the SBRI.
Replying to the debate, Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster said it was only through encouraging research that government could promote "strong, sustained growth in the years ahead".
She described SBRI as "a really excellent scheme".
The motion was carried on an oral vote.