A panel of CEOs from top Indiana agriculture companies met to give their support to the BioCrossroads Food and Agriculture Initiative. Panelists described innovation taking place in their companies and how the new program will help them grow.
A panel of CEOs from top Indiana agriculture companies met to give their support to the BioCrossroads Food and Agriculture Initiative. Panelists described innovation taking place in their companies and how the new program will help them grow.
INDIANAPOLIS — Two heads are better than one, and leaders of the agriculture community have acknowledged this by supporting the Food and Agriculture Innovation Initiative.

The initiative, a brainchild of BioCrossroads, encourages collaboration between public and private stakeholders.

Leaders in government, business and academia came together recently to discuss future plans and long-term strategies. The goal is to make Indiana a global headquarters for research and education.

“Since the inception of BioCrossroads over a decade ago, the food and agriculture sector has been a highly innovative industry due in large part to the remarkable set of resources that exists in our state,” said David Johnson, president and CEO of BioCrossroads.

“Today we are moving that focus into action by organizing a forum in which key stakeholders ... can work together to capitalize on our strengths to not only benefit our economy, but to help solve global challenges the sector faces.”

Beth Bechdol, director of agribusiness strategies at Ice Miller, will lead the initiative. The effort will be housed under the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership and BioCrossroads.

“In the past several months, with the support of BioCrossroads and CICP, we have traveled the state talking to many food and ag organization who are eager to participate,” Bechdol said.

Elanco Animal Health, Beck’s Hybrids, Clabber Girl, Dow AgroSciences, Indiana Soybean Alliance, Indiana Corn Marketing Council, JBS United and Purdue University are some of the organizations on board.

The next step is to create a sophisticated brand that will represent the initiative, Bechdol said.

Leaders of the program will encourage collaboration between stakeholders in strategic areas, such as nutrition and ag production. The group also will support the formation of new agricultural companies.

“It began with a BioCrossroads report on food and agriculture innovation, 21st-century opportunities, where they looked at how could we better leverage the assets we have in Indiana,” said Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann.

“We have many, many good companies in Indiana that are doing great, innovative work around agriculture. When you combine that with the resources throughout the state, synergizing those ... we see this as a public-private partnership that we want to leverage to create this innovation initiative,” she said.

BioCrossroads is conducting another study to quantify innovation and the scope of Indiana’s ag industry. The report will include numbers on the amount of patents filed, amount of money spent on research and more.