October 22, 2020

New GRA initiative aims to strengthen agribusiness and entrepreneurship

Greater Yield’ will deliver ingenuity from Georgia universities to farms, food producers

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and state Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black joined leadership of the Georgia Research Alliance today to announce a new GRA initiative that will bring more inventions from Georgia’s universities to farms and food producers.

Called Greater Yield, the initiative leverages the success of GRA’s venture development program, which seeds and shapes companies around university discoveries. A new cohort of university projects and startups, all formed around ag innovation, will qualify to receive grants, loans and mentoring from GRA.

GRA announced the launch of the initiative inside the spacious Georgia Grown Building at the Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter in Perry, Ga.

“With the Greater Yield initiative, we’re addressing two important needs at once,” says GRA President Susan Shows. “We’re helping Georgia’s farmers and food producers add efficiencies and solve problems. And we’re helping more enterprising researchers at Georgia’s universities bring their inventions to market by launching companies.”

"Today, GRA is adding to the good news in our state," Gov. Kemp told the gathering. "This project will put a special focus on research that benefits our state’s top industry. I’m very excited about the impact this program will have — not only on our farmers, but also for entrepreneurs."

With an annual economic impact of $75 billion, agribusiness leads Georgia’s economy. Georgia farmers and food producers need new technologies to increase yields, 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.

State Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black also addressed the crowd, framing Greater Yield in the larger context of agricultural innovation in Georgia. He noted the evolution of the successful Georgia Grown program, which helps the state's agribusinesses grow and develop, and said he views Greater Yield as a natural extension of Georgia Grown's technology initiative.

At the October 22 launch, Lee Herron, GRA’s vice president of venture development, spotlighted an initial cohort of six university research projects that show promise as startup companies offering value to agribusiness. The projects range from sensor technology that lessens machine damage to blueberries to a modular system that grows mushrooms out of ag waste.

“Georgia’s universities have long been invaluable partners to our state’s farmers and food producers,” Herron says, “but there’s so much more potential technology to be harnessed. This initiative will help more inventions see the light of day on farms and in factories, as well as create more companies and jobs for Georgia.”

“A greater yield is valued by every enterprise in farming, forestry and food processing,” GRA President Susan Shows told the gathering. “And greater yield is different from pure bounty. It involves using resources wisely, harnessing innovation and thinking differently, all to generate better quality and higher quantity.”

More about Greater Yield >
Meet the first cohort of ‘companies in the making’ >
Watch a video on Kennesaw State’s mushroom cultivation project >

Above, middle: Gov. Brian Kemp, GRA President Susan Shows, and Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black. Above: Susan Shows addresses attendees at the October 22, 2020 launch of GRA's "Greater Yield" initiative in Perry, Ga.