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US to deploy $130m for agri research

The USDA has made $130m available for competitive grants for peer-reviewed research in six agri sub-sectors.

The US Department of Agriculture has committed $130 million to agricultural research and education projects.

Projects to advance plant health and production will receive $33 million, while animal health has been allocated $31 million. Agtech will receive $11 million, while $17 million will go toward agricultural economics and rural community development. Food safety and nutrition projects will receive $19 million. The remainder will go to bioenergy, natural resources and environment projects.

The peer-reviewed grant programme, provided through the USDA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, will provide funding to research projects in six sub-sectors of agricultural science.

The grant programme is intended to drive advances in sustainable agriculture, rural economic growth, water supply management, agricultural production, renewable energy and prevention of childhood obesity.

“Studies have shown that every dollar invested in agricultural research now returns over $20 to our economy, ” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

Private equity and venture capital firms, as well as major agri companies, have increasingly looked to monetise institutional agri research.

This month, AgTech Accelerator raised $11.5 million from Bayer and Syngenta Ventures to build agtech startups based on research from a pool of US universities.

In March, JB Equity announced the launch of a £15 million joint venture with the University of Edinburgh to create spin-out companies from research at the University’s Roslin Institute and the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies.

In  December, the University of California investment office contributed a $250 million cornerstone commitment to a fund dedicated to ventures, including agriculture projects, developed by the university. The fund is led by Silicon Valley entrepreneur Vivek Ranadivé.