Accelerating innovations in the global food, animal industries
By Stephanie Jacques
Kansas State University is using a new business strategy to help the world conquer the challenge of feeding 9.6 billion people by 2050.
The university has created a third-party startup company, Technology Acceleration Partners LLC, or TechAccel. The company establishes partnerships with global agriculture and animal health industry leaders to address gaps in technology innovations that are needed to increase food production, improve food quality and enhance animal health.
"A lot of promising innovations struggle to find a way to the marketplace because there is not money to advance the science to the point at which it is market-ready," said Kent Glasscock, president of Kansas State University's Institute for Commercialization and one of TechAccel's founders.
TechAccel is one of the first companies to create partnerships with global food system corporations that are focused solely on research advancement of promising technologies for the global market. The partners identify market opportunities that have unfunded science gaps. Promising technologies are identified, acquired and advanced.
"A researcher might have created a promising innovation, but the funding necessary to advance and validate that promising innovation is not there," Glasscock said. "Sometimes transformational innovation is so risky that the private sector hesitates to fully fund it and the innovation is stalled in the lab."
TechAccel is designed to create new momentum behind innovation connected to global food systems. The company establishes a 50-50 partnership to ease the financial risk to the corporation.
"The business model concentrates on advancing promising science in direct partnership with established companies that have robust product development systems and global distribution," Glasscock said.
After TechAccel has established a partnership, it looks for the researcher and appropriate innovation. TechAccel does not limit the researcher search to Kansas State University, although it does begin there. Kansas State University researchers are evaluated first as part of the founding agreement, which offers a revenue stream for the university in addition to being a founding equity partner.
"The TechAccel concept is really unlike anything else," Glasscock said. "The business model and Kansas State University's leadership position in helping to form the company sets us apart from other universities. This is a unique and innovative response to a well-recognized challenge."