Effort will build awareness of Indiana’s ingenuity in the sector, expand collaboration among corporate, university and government stakeholders and encourage entrepreneurs

Indianapolis, IN Dec. 3, 2013 – Indiana’s food and agricultural sector is a $16 billion industry, and is poised to be a center of innovation generating business growth and investment but also solutions to the challenges of a growing world population and a limited amount of natural resources. To bolster and help harness the ingenuity of the industry, BioCrossroads is announcing the organization of a Food and Agriculture Innovation Initiative; a need identified in the 2012 report “Food and Agricultural Innovation – 21st Century Opportunities for Indiana.”

Indiana Lieutenant Governor Sue Ellspermann noted, “The agriculture and food production/processing industry is a vital part of the Indiana economy, employing nearly 20 percent of the Hoosier workforce and generating over $25 billion in direct economic impact.  Within that industry a significant amount of world-class agricultural research and development is occurring in labs and workshops at companies and universities throughout the state.  The synergy and collaboration among these entities that is fostered by this new initiative positions Indiana for an even stronger leadership role in the agriculture and food industry.”

After nearly two years of in-depth sector research and analysis, expert interviews, and the publishing of two reports, BioCrossroads has formalized its efforts by organizing an initiative to focus on the development of collective and long term strategies. The new initiative has received support from the State of Indiana, corporations and universities to build on the industry’s existing strengths in agricultural innovation.

“Since the inception of BioCrossroads over a decade ago, the food and agriculture sector has been a highly innovative industry due in large part to the remarkable set of resources that exist in our state,” said David L. Johnson, President and CEO of BioCrossroads and the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership. “Today we are moving that focus into action by organizing a forum in which key stakeholders, including the State of Indiana, can work together to capitalize on our strengths to not only benefit our economy, but help to solve global challenges the sector faces.”

The initiative will be a project under the umbrella of the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership, an effort dedicated to the region’s continued prosperity and growth that houses BioCrossroads, Conexus Indiana, TechPoint, and Energy Systems Network, and will be led by Beth Bechdol, Director of Agribusiness Strategies at Ice Miller. The new initiative will work closely with the Indiana Economic Development Corporation and the Indiana State Department of Agriculture to build upon existing strengths in the industry. In addition, several key industry stakeholders have already pledged support of the effort including Beck’s Hybrids, Clabber Girl, Dow AgroSciences, Elanco, Indiana Soybean Alliance, Indiana Corn Marketing Council, JBS United, Purdue University, and Whiteshire Hamroc.

“Over the past several years, there has been great investment in agricultural technology and innovation. There is tremendous momentum in this sector, and the next logical step is to organize this effort around a set of formal strategic goals,” stated Bechdol. “In the past several months, with the support of BioCrossroads and the CICP, we have traveled the state talking to many food and agricultural organizations who are eager to participate in a collaborative effort that not only sheds light on the great innovation that is already taking place, but will also help to create economic development opportunities for the state and industry.”

The Food and Agriculture Innovation Initiative’s initial plans are to build awareness of the industry’s ingenuity and value through branding and targeted promotion of Indiana’s food and agriculture innovation landscape, expand collaboration among key stakeholders in strategic areas such as health and nutrition and agricultural productivity, and support the formation of new innovative companies in Indiana.

About BioCrossroads
BioCrossroads (www.biocrossroads.com) is Indiana’s initiative to grow, advance and invest in the life sciences, a public-private collaboration that supports the region’s existing research and corporate strengths while encouraging new business development.  BioCrossroads provides money and support to life sciences businesses, launches new life sciences enterprises (Indiana Health Information ExchangeFairbanks Institute for Healthy Communities,BioCrossroadsLINXOrthoWorx and Datalys Center), expands collaboration and partnerships among Indiana’s life science institutions, promotes science education and markets Indiana’s life sciences industry.