Agriculture News

January 27, 2021

Faculty ambassador program aims to support agriculture innovators

butzke-portrait Christian Butzke, a food science professor and wine industry entrepreneur, has been selected as the first innovation and entrepreneurship fellow. (Image provided)

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – A new campuswide faculty innovation and entrepreneurship program will help connect Purdue University innovators with novel paths for entrepreneurship and commercialization.

To kick off the program, the College of Agriculture has appointed Christian Butzke, a food science professor and wine industry entrepreneur, as the first innovation and entrepreneurship fellow.

“I could not be more excited about this great opportunity to share my passion for innovation and entrepreneurship with our wonderful faculty,” Butzke said. “I look forward to working with faculty and students who are interested in commercialization to take their innovations to the world.”

In this new role, Butzke will mentor faculty and students considering entrepreneurship.  He also will support Karen Plaut, the Glenn W. Sample Dean of Agriculture, to develop and implement entrepreneurship and commercialization strategies for the College of Agriculture. 

“Commercialization of Purdue discoveries is crucial in our efforts as a worldwide leader in addressing challenges in food, life and natural resource sciences,” Plaut said.

Bernie Engel, associate dean and director of agricultural research and graduate education, said, “The College of Agriculture has made great strides working with Dan Dawes and our ecosystem partners in creation of startup companies based on faculty, student and staff discoveries. We look forward to growing this success with the addition of Christian in this role.”

Butzke co-founded VinSense, a company assisting in wine grape agriculture through Purdue-patented technology. Dawes is an advisor for the Purdue Foundry.

Wade Lange, vice president and chief entrepreneurial officer of the Purdue Research Foundation, said, “This is another strategic way to support Purdue’s mission of improving the world through technologies and graduates. Dr. Butzke is a wonderful example of a faculty entrepreneur who is innovative and passionate about helping others achieve their dreams. We anticipate that other colleges will soon be participating in the program.”

The campuswide program will be coordinated through the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship. Faculty interested in learning more about this program may contact Arnold Chen at

About Purdue University

Purdue University is a top public research institution developing practical solutions to today’s toughest challenges. Ranked the No. 5 Most Innovative University in the United States by U.S. News & World Report, Purdue delivers world-changing research and out-of-this-world discovery. Committed to hands-on and online, real-world learning, Purdue offers a transformative education to all. Committed to affordability and accessibility, Purdue has frozen tuition and most fees at 2012-13 levels, enabling more students than ever to graduate debt-free. See how Purdue never stops in the persistent pursuit of the next giant leap at

Writer: Chris Adam, 

Christian Butzke,

Wade Lange,

Agricultural Communications: 765-494-8415;

Maureen Manier, Department Head,  

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