Agricultural Entrepreneurship Takes Root in an Apple Orchard
May 3, 2011 | Robert Puro
In the middle of a 72-acre apple orchard situated in the Finger Lakes region of New York State, agricultural entrepreneurship thrives. Ten emerging startup companies reside here charting paths for the commercialization of innovative agricultural products and technologies. This is The Cornell Agriculture and Food Technology Park, also known as the Technology Farm.
“A farm is where you grow things, and we grow new technologies,” said Susan Noble, Executive Director of the Geneva, NY-based Technology Farm. “The Technology Farm is here to benefit New York State and the people that live here.”
From idea to implementation, the Technology Farm took nearly seventeen years to get off the ground. It is a joint project between the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station NYSAES, Ontario County, the city of Geneva, New York State, and Cornell University. The goal of the Technology Farm is to act as a stepping-stone for early stage agriculture technology companies to test and commercialize products that began as ideas and research initiatives at Cornell University and elsewhere. It has been open since 2005 and is currently 80% full.
The Technology Farm provides its tenant companies with affordable office rental rates (Each 120 sq. ft. office rents for $200/month) and an Intellectual Property Advantage Zone that allows for commercialization and private ownership of intellectual property. Other tenant amenities include access to Cornell University faculty and researchers, business plan development and grant writing assistance, administrative services, networking opportunities and introduction to funding sources.
Tenant businesses at the Technology Farm focus on everything from precision agriculture software to marketing hay that never touches the ground. Most tenant businesses are “part of Cornell or need Cornell for something,” said Noble. Take Terrenew, LLC, for example, whose founders licensed research and technology related to dried dairy manure from Cornell University Scientists in order to develop environmentally friendly products for cleaning up environmental contaminants such as oil and hydrogen sulfide.
The Technology Farm is hosting an open house this Thursday, May 5 from 4pm – 7pm to highlight the work being done by its tenant companies (see below). So if you’re interested in learning more about the innovations in agriculture taking place in Upstate New York, be sure to drop by.
Technology Farm Tenant Companies Focusing on Agricultural Innovations:
ZedX develops and provides information technology products and services for the agricultural and environmental industries. The company’s precision agriculture product, AgFleet®, guides the management of more than 12 million acres of agricultural land in North America.
Stony Brook Partners, LLC
Stony Brook Partners, LLC operates Stony Brook Cookie Company and Stony Brook WholeHeartedFoods in Geneva, NY. Working with NYSAES Food Venture Center, Stony Brook took butternut squash seed waste and transformed it into culinary oil that is sold at specialty food markets. The company also sells a byproduct from the squash seed waste for use as pig feed.
Cherrypharm, Inc. makes and markets cheribundi™, a cherry juice that is sold at WholeFoods and other retailers. Cheribundi™ was developed in conjunction with Dr. Olga Padilla-Zakour of the NYSAES and is produced on site at the Technology Farm. CherryPharm’s research and quality lab is managed by Sarah Valois PhD, a Cornell Food Science alumnus.
Seneca BioEnergy develops environmentally beneficial products related to energy, agriculture and the environment. The company uses agricultural crop waste to create renewable energy in the form of biodiesel and biomass. On the agricultural front, the company produces soybean oil, canola oil, feedstock, and grapeseed oil. Seneca BioEnergy also works with local vineyards and wineries to manage their grape production wastes (known as pomace) and to create programs for the reduction of nutrient loadings into site soils and surface waters.
Vitis Biosciences, Inc.
Vitis Biosciences has developed a biotechnology platform that provides solutions to viruses affecting premium vineyards worldwide, particularly in California and Europe. The company’s first product is a rootstock that is resistant to grape fanleaf virus (GFLV). The company collaborated with and licensed intellectual property from Cornell University to develop the product.
Top Quality Hay Processors (TQHP)
TQHP uses a patented process to produce high quality hay that is dried within hours of being cut and never touches the ground. The hay is mold and dust free, has high levels of protein and consistent low moisture levels. Top Quality Hay has used Cornell as a resource for research.
Advanced Biological Marketing (ABM)
ABM provides solutions for commercial agriculture, businesses and consumers by identifying, developing, manufacturing and marketing biological products globally for crop production, institutional sanitation and environmental waste management.
Terrenew, LLC, in affiliation with Cornell University, produces a wide range of environmentally-friendly products from renewable and widely available composts and agricultural waste fibers. The company’s eco-friendly products include Eco-Friendly Oil Absorbents and Oil Absorbent Pads; “Clean Hands” Organic Potting Soils, Organic Mushroom Composts, and Organic Soil Conditioner, as well as Hydrogen Sulfide Removal (H2S) and Heavy Metal Removal products.