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Purdue Invests $2 Million to Find the Next Big Thing in Ag

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Purdue Invests $2 Million to Find the Next Big Thing in Ag

Jay Akridge,
Jay Akridge,

The next big technological breakthrough in seed trait technology may be under development at Purdue University. To help discover what that is and bring it to the market place is the goal of the new “Ag-celerator” project. Purdue University College of Agriculture and Purdue Research Foundation officials announced a $2 million fund on Thursday to help launch startups based on Purdue plant sciences innovations, focused on advancing crop traits and generating higher yields. The plant sciences innovation fund, supported through the Purdue Moves initiative, is called the “Ag-celerator.” The fund is designed to provide critical startup support for Purdue innovators who wish to commercialize patented intellectual property or Purdue “know-how” technologies in plant sciences, including areas of research in crop optimization, hybrid and seed development, and precision agriculture.

“Purdue’s commercialization of innovations in plant-based agriculture is imperative to sustainably feed the projected 9 billion people on our planet by 2050,” said Jay Akridge, Glenn W. Sample Dean of Purdue Agriculture. “The Ag-celerator fund will be a driving force to provide faculty, staff and student innovators with the resources they need to move their innovations to the farm and to the broader public, making technology available to address our food security challenge.” Akridge told HAT the goal of the program is to move breakthrough technology from the lab to the farm more quickly.

The Ag-celerator program also will support two entrepreneur-in-residence positions in the Purdue Foundry to work directly with Purdue innovators to help commercialize innovations in plant sciences. Daryl Starr will begin work immediately, and Kay Kuenker will join in early 2016. Purdue innovators creating a startup based on a Purdue plant sciences innovation are eligible to apply for the Ag-celerator program. “As Indiana’s land-grant university, an important part of Purdue’s mission is to move innovations to the public where they can help people,” said Karen Plaut, Purdue agriculture senior associate dean for research and faculty affairs. “The Ag-celerator program is designed to do that by providing critical startup funding and practical advice that will support the commercialization of Purdue technologies in the plant sciences area.”

Once Purdue innovators are accepted into the Ag-celerator program, they and their startup leadership team can receive assistance from Purdue Foundry. “As a client of Purdue Foundry, innovators can receive help in developing the marketability of their product or service, and can have access to additional funding, educational programs and networking events,” said John Hanak, Purdue Foundry director of venture capital and funding resources. “The entire process supports the Purdue entrepreneurial ecosystem by providing innovators with the assistance to successfully launch a startup.”

The Ag-celerator also would like to leverage outside co-investment funds for plant sciences innovations moving to the market. Purdue Foundry Executive Director Greg Deason said they will provide business and marketing resources for the startups as well as connect them with some of the major players in the Indiana bioscience sector.