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September 26, 2003

Purdue receives $1 million grant for agricultural innovation

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue University will receive a $1 million grant from the United States Department of Agriculture to create an agricultural innovation center in Indiana. The award, which was announced today, will assist farmers and rural businesses in developing value-added agricultural ventures.

The grant is part of a multi-state $10 million award. Centers will be established in 10 states to aid in developing value-added businesses that promote greater use of agricultural commodities.

"We think it’s important to assess the technological and commercial viability of any new venture, and that is what we will focus on with this center, " said Michael Boehlje, professor of agricultural economics who will help oversee the Indiana Agricultural Innovation and Commercialization Center. "We plan to create assessment tools for entrepreneurs to use in developing their businesses."

Boehlje said four projects have already been identified for initial testing and business analysis. The projects include a soy-based laundry detergent additive, new pork products, a soy nutritional enhancement for food and a feasibility study for a corn mesa flour plant.

"After innovations have gone through the assessment phase, we will turn them over to our New Ventures team for assistance in implementing their ideas," Boehlje said. The New Ventures team includes Purdue Extension educators and specialists who assist entrepreneurs with obtaining funding and staffing for new enterprises.

A board of directors, representative of Indiana’s farm, commodity and government groups, will be selected to give direction to center activities, Boehlje said.

Randy Woodson, director of Purdue's agricultural research program, said, "This is a wonderful opportunity for Purdue to continue to help Indiana producers and agricultural industries to create new products and innovations that promote economic development in our rural areas. Purdue was selected as part of a competitive process, based on a track record of achieving value-added successes"

Other institutions that will receive funding for innovation centers include: Michigan State University; Montana State University; Cornell University; Rutgers University; the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute in Minnesota; the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship; the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; the Kansas Department of Commerce; and the North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives. Each award is for approximately $1 million.

The 2002 Farm Bill provided for technical and business development assistance for developing markets and processes for valued-added agricultural commodities and products. According to the USDA, those institutions selected to receive the innovation-center funding developed strong work plans with an emphasis on utilizing non-federal funding and a commitment to measuring the performance of the value-added activities.

Writer: Beth Forbes, (765) 494-2722; forbes@purdue.edu

Sources: Michael Boehlje, (765) 494-4222; boehljem@purdue.edu

Randy Woodson, (765) 494-8362; woodson@purdue.edu

Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722; Beth Forbes, bforbes@aes.purdue.edu; http://www.agriculture.purdue.edu/AgComm/public/agnews/


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