From lab to farm to consumer

GRA's 'Greater Yield' initiative aims to launch, nurture and grow more startups

Georgia’s farmers and food producers have long had a friend in the state’s colleges and universities.

The University of Georgia is a great example. Scientists there have:

  • developed new cultivars for peanuts and blueberries;
  • engineered turf grasses that tolerate shade; and
  • driven a host of other innovations to benefit ag and food businesses in Georgia and elsewhere.

UGA has not been alone in this effort. Georgia Tech, Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College and others have developed tools and processes to advance food and agriculture in our state.

But today’s poultry, livestock, dairy and crop farmers in Georgia need innovation more than ever. They face modern-day obstacles that Georgia’s universities can help overcome.

The challenge is connecting the two: Getting more university inventions out of the lab and into the hands of farmers and food-producing businesses across Georgia.

A new initiative from GRA is designed to do just that.

INTRODUCING: Greater Yield

A GRA initiative to launch, nurture and grow more university startups in ag and food tech

A shortage of available labor has required that Georgia’s poultry, livestock, dairy and crop farmers find more efficiencies in operations.

Georgia farmers and food producers also need new technologies to increase yields and ensure food safety. They need to promote the health of animals; make plant crops more resistant to drought and disease; and optimize the time and conditions for harvesting, processing and delivery.

University researchers are inventing new technologies to benefit Georgia’s ag and food businesses. But they need knowledge, guidance and early investment to launch companies and bring their inventions to market.

The Georgia Research Alliance has a 20-year track record in turning discoveries and inventions at the state’s universities into successful companies. These startups bring in huge outside investment and create new jobs in the state.

Through the Greater Yield Initiative, GRA is initiating a special focus on university inventions that are both viable in the marketplace – and valuable to Georgia’s agriculture and food processing businesses.

So far, GRA has identified six university technologies that have high potential benefit to agribusinesses. Among them are intelligent robots to automate the sizing, sorting and packing of onions and other produce; and sensors that detect and quantify the damage to blueberries caused by machinery. • Learn about the six projects >

How the Greater Yield Initiative works

GRA launched Greater Yield on October 22, 2020 at the Georgia National Fairgrounds & Agriculture Center in Perry, Ga. Onhand to help with the launch were Gov. Brian Kemp and State Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black.

Through the Greater Yield Initiative, GRA’s venture development program serves as both a (virtual) incubator and accelerator to bring the most promising inventions in ag tech to market. This involves:

  • Identifying and evaluating technologies at the universities
  • Providing seed funding (phase 1 and 2 grants, phase 3 loans)
  • Monitoring the progress of startup development through milestones
  • Providing seasoned mentors to newly launched companies and their CEOs
  • Sharing knowledge and making connections to potential investors and/or customers
  • Staging an annual summit to showcase projects and companies

Initial funding for the Greater Yield Initiative comes from GRA’s venture development program.

Related story: A Kennesaw State invention helps farmers turn ag scraps to a cash crop >

To evaluate the success of the Greater Yield Initiative, GRA:

  • Tracks the number of new companies started
  • Tracks both venture capital investment and creation of jobs in the startups
  • Tracks new licensing deals in ag tech between universities and existing Georgia companies
  • Assesses the competitive advantage provided to growers, processors and other businesses