Members of the Ag Innovation Showcase Advisory Committee share developments in their companies, and some thoughts on the landscape around food and ag. One in a series.
Bill Aimutis will retire from Cargill at the end of July to assume the position of director of a newly formed center housed in the Kannapolis campus of the University of North Carolina’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. The Center will serve as a one-of-a-kind enterprise to attract early-stage food companies to North Carolina. It will provide good manufacturing practices (GMP) services for lab testing of early-stage food products, enabling them to assess hazards and establish control systems from early in the conceptualization and validation process.
Sam Fiorello of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center announced a new resource for crop innovations at the Center made possible by a generous donation. 30 farms have opened up 120 acres for beta testing and field tracking that will innovators to go beyond the lab and greenhouse.
Sam is proud of the 2018 Ag Innovation Showcase’s emphasis on providing opportunities for the input side of the food value chain to interact with the food brands and consumer side.
Rob Leclerc of Ag Funder, shared with us that they are investing at a “blistering pace”. For the moment they are looking at markets outside the US where the competition is less intense. They are finding opportunities in markets in Australia, South Africa, and Brazil, and they are looking mid-stream in the food value system.
Pat Morand and the investment team at Open Prairie investment team are focusing on innovations to bring broadband communication to rural areas to enable the IoT revolution on the farm and impact economic development in rural areas. Open Prairie received one of the first licenses from USDA to operate a Rural Business Investment Company (RBIC).
Open Prairie raised a fund of over $55 million, from lending institutions in the Farm Credit System, family offices, farm organizations and individuals committed to rural development. America.
Bob Morris of AndMore Associates, LLC highlighted a big emphasis on plant nutrition across the food value chain, noting changes in R&D as well as retail structures within the universities and the input industry. Bob is excited about his own efforts to engage the fertilizer industry with the Ag Innovation Showcase community this year. He sees significant opportunities for productivity gains from new collaborations across the food value system, going beyond “spray and pray”.
David Russell of Lewis and Clark shared that they are seeing good opportunities to increase farm productivity through digital and “traditional” innovations as well as improving supply chain post farm gate.
Nancy Shawver (communications and PR lead), sitting in for TechAccel’s Michael Helmstetter, announced TechAccel’s investment grant to a UC Davis gene editing technology led by Anne Britt of UC Davis through the Davis Venture Catalyst Science Translation and Innovative Research (STAIR™) Grant program at The University of California. In general, TechAccel is focusing considerable attention on post-harvest technologies across the food value system to reduce waste and improve shelf-life with a goal of meeting consumer demand and increasing the sustainability of the food system.