INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Indiana is poised to become a global force in food and agricultural innovation, according to the latest BioCrossroads report, “Food and Agricultural Innovation – 21st Century Opportunities for Indiana.”
The report, which was released today after nearly two years of in-depth sector research and expert interviews, calls for the formation of an organization that can foster collaboration, assist in getting technology to market and leverage assets.
“With agricultural research and technology leaders like Dow AgroSciences and Elanco, as well as Purdue University, and dozens of other businesses and organizations that develop and promote technological products and services, this is a sector that’s ripe for more collaboration and innovation,” said David L. Johnson, president and CEO of BioCrossroads. “Indiana has a remarkable set of resources that can be harnessed to solve emerging global food and nutrition challenges, while driving sector growth. The report takes stock of where we are, and then outlines ways to capitalize on these strengths for the benefit of our regional economy,” Johnson observed.
The report notes that Indiana’s food and agriculture industry:
- Employs 19 percent of the Hoosier workforce
- Contributes $16 billion to the Gross State Product
- Exports $3.4 billion in product from 62,000 farms and 14.8 million acres.
In addition, the report points out that globally over the next several decades, agriculture will be challenged to provide food, feed, fiber and fuel to a growing world population which is forecast to increase by nearly 30 percent to 9 billion people by 2050. As a result, science, technology and innovation, and the application of this research, primarily through commercialization, will be challenged to successfully — and dramatically — reshape global agriculture.
“Today’s global food and agricultural production challenges are significant, and there is a critical need for additional food sources, more resilient crops and better health and nutrition,” said Antonio Galindez, president and CEO of Dow AgroSciences. “Working together is essential to meeting these challenges and is a priority for us. This report demonstrates that there is a lot that can be done within Indiana’s borders to accelerate the development of this important sector and the broader economy it serves.”
The report details several key themes that emerged from extensive discussions with a variety of stakeholders:
- Collaboration: Despite a strong network among participants in Indiana’s food and agricultural sector, there is a growing need to identify new business partnerships and sourcing technologies, both from public and private and internal and external sources.
- Early Stage Technology Translation and Advancement: Significant limitations still impede progress in key areas such as access to capital, sourcing of technology and availability of entrepreneurial talent.
- Sector Promotion and Support: Important needs require a more effective sector strategy, including talent development and workforce recruitment, education and policy, and branding.
- Asset Leverage: Specific assets in the areas of data analytics and “food for health” represent opportunities for significant collaboration and growth.
“It is critical that these discussions among Indiana’s food and agricultural stakeholders continue,” said Beth Bechdol, Director of Agribusiness Strategies at Ice Miller, and the consultant to BioCrossroads who prepared the report. “A new organizing forum could best define opportunities for continued growth, ultimately leading to greater economic development across the state and for individual stakeholders.”
A new food and agricultural forum could have a key role in:
- Mobilizing resources to support sector growth and establishing a platform for identifying opportunities and pursuing stakeholder interests.
- Identifying and organizing financing and access to capital for start-up firms as well as providing additional resources to support early-stage companies.
- Defining Indiana’s innovation brand and educating broad public audiences about the capabilities and resources of the sector.
- Strengthening the educational curriculum, adding programs in K-12 and convening educational partners to match workforce requirements of the private sector with educational and training offerings.
“The combination of tremendous agricultural production capacity and the agriculturally focused science and technology assets Indiana possesses uniquely position our state to address and capitalize on critical global trends,” said Jay Akridge, Ph.D., Glenn W. Sample Dean of Agriculture, College of Agriculture at Purdue University. “Food and agricultural research and innovation are core strengths of Purdue and an important part of Indiana’s life sciences portfolio. We are pleased to see the results of the study point directly to expanded opportunities for economic development through more and larger scale partnerships across the state and region.”
In 2004, BioCrossroads released its first study; “A Strategic Plan for Indiana’s Agricultural Economy,” focusing on the industry’s growth potential based on jobs and wage factors in the context of a wider analysis of the state’s agricultural economy. The data and strategies outlined in this 2004 report served as an important starting point for the State of Indiana in its creation of the first cabinet-level State Department of Agriculture in 2005.
Read BioCrossroads’ latest report on agricultural and plant science innovation.