Purdue University has been chosen for a new fund designed to help commercialize university intellectual property focusing on food and agricultural technologies. The $125 million Generation Food Rural Partners fund is led by New York-based Big Idea Ventures LLC and involves 10 universities throughout the country. Wade Lange, chief entrepreneurial officer at Purdue, says the fund will not only help bring discoveries from the university to the marketplace, but also boost regional economic development.
In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Lange said the fund will help Purdue in its development of plant- and cell-based protein.
“It complements a core focus area of the College of Agriculture at Purdue and again, an area where we can have a positive impact in the world,” said Lange. “There was a Boston Consulting report that came out within the last couple of years and their projection is that, at kind of the low end, the alternative protein marketplace is going to be $290 billion by 2035, so it’s a huge opportunity.”
Perhaps the most commonly known forms of alternative protein come from the Impossible or Beyond brands, which make plant-based meat products such as burgers and sausage. Lange says the next step is to broaden the types of protein products that could be made from non-animal sources.
“Really, it’s a form of manufacturing; how we make proteins that don’t start with an animal, but start with a plant, so it could by soy, or start with cells that are grown in a laboratory that are transformed into a food product that’s tasty, that’s safe, that we want to buy and done certainly at an affordable price as well,” he said.
One of the main goals of the fund is to fuel economic development in rural communities throughout the country. Lange says the fund helps Purdue achieve its mission as Indiana’s land grant university to improve the economy as new companies are created.
“In the Big Idea Ventures Generational Food Rural Partners fund, it’s expressly stated that when companies are spun out of the university that they will be located here,” Lange said. “They already have an abundant network of experienced entrepreneurs and technical experts in these fields. The expectation is those people will come here and create these companies that will grow in West Lafayette or in the surrounding area.”
Lange says Purdue is the only university in the U.S. that has a top 10 college of agriculture and college of engineering, which will be beneficial in the further development of plant- and cell-based proteins because the work will span both areas.
Lange says the fund will help Purdue in its development of plant- and cell-based protein.