Purdue $2 million fund created to launch plant sciences startups

December 10, 2015  

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue University College of Agriculture and Purdue Research Foundation officials announced Thursday (Dec. 10) a $2 million fund 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. The fund is a joint project of the Purdue College of Agriculture, the Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization and the Purdue Foundry, a startup hub in the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship.

"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."

The Ag-celerator program also will support two entrepreneur-in-residence positions in the Purdue Foundry who will 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 a Purdue innovator is 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.

Specifics of the Ag-celerator program include:

* Startups are evaluated for the strength of market potential, operational viability and leadership team.

* Teams and individuals accepted into the Ag-celerator program will be selected by a committee composed of leaders from the Purdue College of Agriculture, Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization and Purdue Foundry.

* Accepted teams and individuals will complete a startup program called the LaunchBox and will work closely with entrepreneurs-in-residence at Purdue Foundry. The program includes development of an executive summary, pitch deck and business plan.

* Ag-celerator funding up to $100,000 per startup will be awarded on a competitive basis under advisement of an investment committee and will likely be structured as convertible debt.

* Funding should be applied toward critical, commercially relevant development to improve the probability of attracting follow-on funding.

For more information contact Hanak at jmhanak@prf.org or Starr at daryl02@gmail.com.

About Purdue College of Agriculture

Purdue University's College of Agriculture is one of the world's leading colleges of agricultural, food, life and natural resource sciences. As a land-grant institution, the college is committed to preparing students to make a difference, wherever their careers take them; stretching the frontiers of science to find solutions to some of the most pressing global challenges; and, through Purdue Extension and engagement programs, helping the people of Indiana, the nation and the world improve their lives and livelihoods.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

About Purdue Foundry

The Purdue Foundry is an entrepreneurship and commercialization hub in Discovery Park's Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship whose professionals help Purdue innovators create startups. Managed by the Purdue Research Foundation, the Purdue Foundry received the 2014 Incubator Network of the Year by the National Business Incubation Association for its work in entrepreneurship. For more information about funding and investment opportunities in startups based on a Purdue innovation, contact the Purdue Foundry at http://www.purduefoundry.com 

Writer: Cynthia Sequin, 765-588-3340, casequin@prf.org

Sources: Jay Akridge, 765-494-8391, akridge@purdue.edu

Karen Plaut, 765-494-8362, kplaut@purdue.edu

John Hanak, 765-588-5255, jmhanak@prf.org 

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