The Kenan Institute is collaborating with the NC State College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) and the NC Biotechnology Center to investigate the potential for an Agricultural Biotechnology Institute focused on addressing human needs relevant to food yields, water supply, soil quality, climate change, air quality, energy production, sustainable infrastructure and materials, and health. Key components of such an effort would include a membership based industrial research consortium, shared research and analytical facilities for multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional research, high level process development expertise and facilities, training and educational modules and simulators. This effort would lead to higher levels of corporate sponsored research, government research grants, and would include faculty from a number of universities across NC including NC State, UNC-CH, ECU, NCCU, UNC Wilmington, Duke, Wake Forest, and NC A&T. This effort would also lead to the development of a bioprocessing facility of the future (Modular, flexible, portable, control and automation), enhanced corporate engagement and shared physical and intellectual resources. Potential corporate partners on this effort include BASF, Syngenta, farmers, service providers (Freelon Group, O’Brien Atkins, Yonkers, M+W), and equipment manufacturers ( EMD Millipore, Pall, GE Healthcare, and Sartorius). The potential impact is to raise NC to #1 leadership in agricultural biotechnology and maintain it as #1 leader in biomanufacturing. This would further enable economic development through job growth from new companies, products and processes developed in-state and out of state and over $2-3 million in research and other services per year.
Among some unique collaborations envisioned as part of the Agricultural Biotechnology Institute projects include a new Center for Accelerating Adaptation to Stress in Crops through a Systems Approach that will use the most advanced concepts and technology of systems engineering and molecular biology to improve food security in the developing world by increasing the ability of crops to respond to multiple environmental and biotic Stresses, a public awareness initiative with the Genetic Engineering and Society Center led by Fred Gould and Jennifer Kuzma, and support for K-12 workshops and collaborations with agbiotech companies in partnership with the Institute’s Kenan Fellows Program.