IBJNews

Next up for Indiana biotech: Feed the world

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Even though the potential payoff for health care innovation is less certain these days, the business case for new ways to produce more food has never been stronger.

That’s the analysis that lies behind BioCrossroads’ new report, “Food and Agricultural Innovation: 21st Century Opportunities for Indiana,” released Thursday by the Indianapolis-based life sciences development group.

Rapid population growth in Africa and Asia will demand a doubling of worldwide food production from current levels by 2050, according to one estimate from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.

That means innovations to improve crop yields or to reduce the use of natural resources such as water and land is imperative, said report author Beth Bechdol, an Ice Miller LLP attorney and former official at the Indiana State Department of Agriculture.

Bechdol concluded that the places best positioned to produce those innovations are those that already have substantial amounts of ag production and ag research.

“It is the combination of traditional agricultural production capacity and the agricultural-related science and technology assets Indiana possesses that make it uniquely positioned to address and capitalize on the larger global trends that are going to reshape the agricultural industry over the next several decades,” Bechdol wrote.

Most of the rest of Bechdol’s report catalogs Indiana’s assets in those two categories.

Indiana’s biggest assets in ag research and development are Indianapolis-based Dow AgroSciences LLC, the Greenfield-based Elanco Animal Health division of Eli Lilly and Co., and Purdue University.

Those institutions are already doing their own work to commercialize ag-related products. But there are also some budding assets that could help in those processes or perhaps take technologies discovered by the large companies and turn them into startups.

For example, Bechdol noted, West Lafayette-based Cook Biotech recently formed a company called Cook Animal Health that is looking to commercialize ag technologies discovered by others. And an increasing number of venture capital firms, including Carmel-based Cultivian Ventures, are interested in funding ag tech companies.

On the production side, Indiana is the United States’ ninth-largest producer of crops and livestock, according to 2010 data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

In all, agriculture and ag-related businesses produce goods and services worth $16 billion statewide. They employ nearly one in five Hoosier workers and pay total wages of more than $4.3 billion, according to the BioCrossroads report. In addition, farmers generate an additional $1 billion in annual income for themselves.

But Bechdol and BioCrossroads want to create a separate group like BioCrossroads to get all those businesses talking to one another, so they can identify the best ways to advance the industry and spawn new participants in it.

“Indiana food and agricultural innovation stakeholders are well-positioned for their own business growth and expansion,” she wrote. “Greater coordination and collaboration among the various agricultural leaders could, however, foster even more economic development and help to reshape Indiana’s agricultural landscape, but it will require greater collective attention and engagement.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. A Tilted Kilt at a water park themed hotel? Who planned that one? I guess the Dad's need something to do while the kids are on the water slides.

  2. Don't come down on the fair for offering drinks. This is a craft and certainly one that belongs in agriculture due to ingredients. And for those worrying about how much you can drink. I'm sure it's more to do with liability than anything else. They don't want people suing for being over served. If you want a buzz, do a little pre-drinking before you go.

  3. I don't drink but go into this "controlled area" so my friend can drink. They have their 3 drink limit and then I give my friend my 3 drink limit. How is the fair going to control this very likely situation????

  4. I feel the conditions of the alcohol sales are a bit heavy handed, but you need to realize this is the first year in quite some time that beer & wine will be sold at the fair. They're starting off slowly to get a gauge on how it will perform this year - I would assume if everything goes fine that they relax some of the limits in the next year or couple of years. That said, I think requiring the consumption of alcohol to only occur in the beer tent is a bit much. That is going to be an awkward situation for those with minors - "Honey, I'm getting a beer... Ok, sure go ahead... Alright see you in just a min- half an hour."

  5. This might be an effort on the part of the State Fair Board to manage the risk until they get a better feel for it. However, the blanket notion that alcohol should not be served at "family oriented" events is perhaps an oversimplification. and not too realistic. For 15 years, I was a volunteer at the Indianapolis Air Show, which was as family oriented an event as it gets. We sold beer donated by Monarch Beverage Company and served by licensed and trained employees of United Package Liquors who were unpaid volunteers. And where did that money go? To central Indiana children's charities, including Riley Hospital for Children! It's all about managing the risk.

ADVERTISEMENT