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Nine Campuses Join Rural Food Research Fund

Grain storage structure

Grain storage structure in Iowa (A. Kotok)

14 Apr. 2021. Nine universities in the U.S. are taking part in a program supporting research and entrepreneurs developing food and agricultural solutions in rural areas. Big Idea Ventures in New York says the nine universities are joining its $125 million Generation Food Rural Partners fund to support and commercialize campus research discoveries that benefit rural economic development.

Big Idea Ventures is a venture capital investor with start-up accelerators for new companies developing alternative food and agriculture products. The company also funds first full venture rounds of enterprises beyond the immediate start-up phase. In January 2021, BIV began the Generation Food Rural Partners fund, that sponsors university research in alternative protein sources, food technologies, agricultural innovations, and invests in new companies to commercialize those advances. And while the new start-ups may locate in the vicinity of university campuses, those locations must be in rural communities. The fund expects to invest $125 million in these projects.

The Generation Food Rural Partners fund selected its first campus collaborator in January, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. Yesterday, BIV announced nine more university departments or research centers joining the program:

Louisiana State University, College of Agriculture, in Baton Rouge

Oregon State University, College of Agricultural Sciences, in Corvallis

Penn State University in University Park, through its Invent Penn State initiative

Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana

Tufts University, School of Nutrition Science and Policy, in Boston, Mass.

University of Hawai‘i, Manoa campus

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences

University of Massachusetts – Amherst, Institute for Applied Life Sciences

Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Mass., Center for Advanced Research in Drying

BIV says the Generation Food Rural Partners or GFRP fund’s 10 campus partners conduct research supporting the company’s focus on food, protein, and agricultural innovation. The company expects to assign specialists to campus venture centers to review research at those universities and identify developments with the greatest commercial potential. New businesses formed to commercialize those developments then become candidates for financing from the fund.

“We believe GFRP will drive additional research and encourage entrepreneurs to establish their companies near our venture centers in rural America,” says Andrew Ive, BIV’s founder and managing partner in a company statement. “Our rural communities have always been the center of our country’s food production and this is one way to help those communities continue to grow economically into the future.”

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