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US: New Generation Food Rural Partners fund supports start-ups with university IP

Generation Food Rural Partners is a $125 million target fund launched in the US by global protein investor Big Idea Ventures
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Alternative protein investor Big Idea Ventures (BIV) has launched Generation Food Rural Partners (GFRP), a $125 million target fund set up to fuel economic development in rural communities across the US. The fund will support the commercialisation of food and agricultural technologies, protein innovation and other university intellectual property.

The fund as selected NC State University as its inaugural collaborator.

“Big Idea Ventures was founded to solve the world’s greatest challenges by backing the world’s best entrepreneurs,” said Andrew Ive, founder and managing general partner of Big Idea Ventures.

Ive said this new fund will widen our scope to capture breakthrough technologies from world-class universities that will impact the global food supply chain.

He added: “The goal is to drive job creation and entrepreneurship in rural communities hungry for economic development and have them continue to be the centres of food innovation and production for generations to come.”

Venture network

Through the GFRP fund, Big Idea Ventures will establish at least five venture centres to facilitate collaboration with multiple leading US universities.

BIV venture centre staff will work with the universities to identify and evaluate new developments with the strongest commercialisation potential. The fund will then invest in new companies formed around the groundbreaking research.

These new companies will be headquartered in rural communities near the collaborating universities, and the GFRP team expects the first of these new companies to be established in North Carolina.

“We are excited to launch Generation Food Rural Partners with NC State as our first university collaborator,” said Tom Mastrobuoni, BIV’s chief investment officer. “We chose NC State because of its forward-looking investments in plant science and plant-based food innovation and its historical excellence in plant breeding and agricultural research.

Mastrobuoni explained that the initiative seeks to help universities like NC State benefit from forming these new businesses while demonstrating the commercial value of university research. “We believe GFRP will drive more scientists to pursue additional research and encourage other entrepreneurs to establish their companies near our venture centres in rural America.”

World-class food and agriculture research

NC State is a top-ranked land-grant university globally recognised as a research powerhouse. Researchers in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences alone were awarded $96.5 million in grants last year. They also exceeded $130 million in research expenditures in more than 600 active research programmes in on-campus labs, field labs, farm fields, and in the state’s network of 18 research stations.

Wade Fulghum, assistant vice chancellor for research commercialisation, said: “We are thrilled that Big Idea Ventures has recognised NC State’s world-class agricultural research capabilities, and this opportunity aligns perfectly with our mission to create prosperity for our state and reflects the entrepreneurial spirit of this university.

“With our think-and-do mindset, we believe research has its greatest value when it’s at work in the real world, creating opportunities and solving problems. We’re delighted to be working with this team from the very beginning.”

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