- Author: Mike Hsu
The Fresno-Merced Future of Food Innovation Initiative (F3) – of which UC ANR is an anchor institution – took a big step forward during the UC Regents meeting May 18.
The Regents unanimously approved the formation of F3 Innovate – a new 501(c)(3) nonprofit that will raise funds for the partnership initiative that also includes the Central Valley Community Foundation (CVCF), California Department of Food and Agriculture, UC Merced and CSU Fresno.
Largely funded by a $65 million Build Back Better grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, F3 aims to advance innovation and entrepreneurship in agrifood technology, strengthen food systems, bolster local and regional economies, and bring greater prosperity to the San Joaquin Valley and beyond.
The new F3 Innovate nonprofit will focus on agrifood systems research and commercialization, services for micro-enterprises and small businesses in under-resourced communities, ag-tech innovation seed funding, and building a talent pipeline to sustain these efforts.
“This 501(c)(3) is critical to all of that, because it really lets us bring together the public and private partners, and ensures that broader stakeholder participation and benefit,” said Glenda Humiston, UC vice president for agriculture and natural resources, during her presentation to the Regents (view recording of the meeting).
UC Merced Chancellor Juan Sánchez Muñoz and CVCF President and CEO Ashley Swearengin also spoke passionately during the meeting about the need to form the nonprofit as a key connector and catalyst for the F3 initiative.
F3 – and the new F3 Innovate – will continue to take shape through the work of Gabe Youtsey, UC ANR chief innovation officer; Josh Viers, associate dean for research of UC Merced's School of Engineering; and many other academics and staff across UC ANR and UC.
"Establishing F3 Innovate as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization is a strategic move designed to unlock and accelerate agriculture technology from lab to market. It will pave the way for a wider range of collaboration opportunities between the UC and industry, and ensure the inclusion and representation of all our stakeholders, from small and socially disadvantaged farmers to startups and corporates," said Youtsey, who is also founder of The VINE, UC ANR's Innovation & Entrepreneurship program that is co-leading F3.
"The UC Regents were enthusiastic about this partnership as it aligns perfectly with our mission of transforming cutting-edge agricultural research into practical, market-ready solutions while doing the hard work of engaging our local workers, communities and farmers to adopt these new technologies," Youtsey added. "It enables us to foster deep and meaningful collaborative relationships with industry partners, advancing technology commercialization that is inclusive and truly beneficial to all involved."
- Author: Jeannette E. Warnert
Vice President Glenda Humiston hosted 50 high-level representatives from 24 countries as part of the Tenth Americas Competitiveness Exchange (ACE 10) on Innovation and Entrepreneurship tour of Northern California Oct. 21-27.
Over the course of a week, ACE 10 participants visited innovation clusters in San Francisco, Salinas, Santa Cruz, Monterey, Fresno, Davis and Sacramento.
UC Cooperative Extension advisors David Haviland and Jhalendra Rijal and Sebastian Silva of ag tech company Semios talked to the international delegates about almond research and how UCCE works with growers and companies.
Later, an entrepreneur told AVP Wendy Powers that he was beginning to think about how to develop a university-based Extension system in Grenada, how to convince his government to redirect funds from federal agencies to the university.
Tour co-sponsor Valley Vision's Tammy Cronin described activities during the ACE 10 visit to Sacramento in a blog post.
The ACE program is coordinated by the U.S. Department of Commerce's International Trade Administration and Economic Development Administration in coordination with the U.S. Department of State and the Organization of American States. It brings together decision-makers from around the world to explore global and regional partnerships, and economic development opportunities to establish new global commercial relationships.
“ACE has been instrumental in showcasing the incredible innovation capacity of U.S. regions and has proven critical in establishing global commercial relationships that can support U.S. business objectives,” said Dennis Alvord, EDA deputy assistant secretary for regional affairs. “Northern California is a world-renowned center of innovation and entrepreneurship activity and we look forward to showcasing the incredible work that the Department of Commerce and regional leaders are doing to advance the innovation economy.”
EDA and OAS posted daily updates about the tour on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag
“In the coming decade, the stresses on the U.S. food and agricultural enterprise won't be solved by business as usual – either in the field or in our current research efforts,” said Susan Wessler, the Neil and Rochelle Campbell Presidential Chair for Innovations in Science Education and distinguished professor of genetics at UC Riverside, who was a co-chair of this important new study.
Alison Van Eenennaam, UC Cooperative Extension specialist at UC Davis, served on the Committee on Science Breakthroughs 2030: A Strategy for Food and Agricultural Research, and other UC academics were involved in reviewing content for the 200-page book.
The urgent progress needed today, given challenges such as water scarcity, increased weather variability, floods and droughts, requires a convergent research approach that harnesses advances in data science, materials science, information technology, behavioral sciences, economics and many other fields.
The committee identified five breakthrough opportunities that take advantage of a convergent approach to research challenges and could potentially increase the capabilities of food and agricultural science dramatically:
- A systems approach to understand the nature of interactions among the different elements of the food and agricultural system can be leveraged to increase overall system efficiency, resilience, and sustainability.
- The development and validation of highly sensitive, field-deployable sensors and biosensors will enable rapid detection and monitoring capabilities across various food and agricultural disciplines.
- The application and integration of data sciences, software tools, and systems models will enable advanced analytics for managing the food and agricultural system.
- The ability to carry out routine gene editing of agriculturally important organisms will allow for precise and rapid improvement of traits important for productivity and quality.
- Understanding the relevance of the microbiome to agriculture and harnessing this knowledge will improve crop production, transform feed efficiency, and increase resilience to stress and disease.
They include recommendations for a range of federal agencies, as well as federal and private funders and researchers.
“It is very gratifying to see a strong recommendation for enhanced support to the Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension systems as vitally important infrastructure!” VP Glenda Humiston said.
Humiston and other UC ANR leaders are considering how UC ANR might best use the ideas presented in the report.
The report is available for free download at https://www.nap.edu/catalog/25059/science-breakthroughs-to-advance-food-and-agricultural-research-by-2030.
To promote the exchange and sharing of agricultural extension information, several U.S. Land Grant institutions have formed an alliance with 10 Chinese agricultural universities. From June 17 to 22, UC ANR took a group of scientists from Chinese agricultural universities on a tour of agriculture in Northern California.
“The Chinese face many of the same issues that we do here in the U.S.,” said VP Glenda Humiston. “The Chinese universities want to improve rural economic development to lift up the quality of life for people in rural communities. They are also responding to global climate change, drought and pests while trying to improve food security and water use efficiency. They see UC Cooperative Extension as an effective research model; we hope that scientific collaborations will accelerate solutions and help maintain relations for California agriculture with China.”
The Chinese Extension Alliance Delegation included Song Hui, vice dean of the New Rural Development Research Institute of Northeast Agricultural University; Sun Wenpeng, professional extension personnel of Northeast Agricultural University; Luo Jian, associate professor of business at Hunan Agricultural University; He Minghui, associate professor of business at Hunan Agricultural University; and Li Peng, director of the Office of Invigorating Agriculture with Science and Education in the Department of Science and Technology.
The group toured Oregon agriculture with Oregon State University representatives, then drove from Klamath Falls with Humiston and Greg Gibbs and Rob Broadhurst of Development Services to begin the California tour at UC ANR's Intermountain Research and Extension Center in Tulelake. Rob Wilson, Intermountain REC director, showed them research being conducted on potatoes and mint breeding. From there, the group headed out to tour Shasta Dam.
In Redding, Larry Forero, UCCE director in Shasta County, and Rick Satomi, UCCE forest advisor, told the Chinese delegates about local research and outreach, then introduced them to 4-H youth and families at the Shasta District Fair, where 4-H members were bringing livestock for show.
UCCE advisors Josh Davy and Allan Fulton discussed orchards and water in Tehama County.
In Yuba City, UCCE director Janine Hasey and her staff gave the guests an overview of UCCE programs in Yuba and Sutter counties and plans for celebrating the office's 100th anniversary on Aug. 24. They met with UCCE pomology advisors, who gave them a tour of Sierra Gold Nurseries orchards and walnut rootstock research sites and discussed collaborations with growers.
Stephanie Larson, UCCE director in Sonoma County, drove the group around areas in Santa Rosa that burned in October and discussed UCCE's fire research and outreach to the community. The group also met with UCCE staff in Sonoma County to discuss food access, 4-H youth development, natural resources and wine grapes.
For a view of UC Cooperative Extension from the campus perspective, Mark Bell, vice provost of Strategic Initiatives and Statewide Programs, introduced the group to colleagues in the College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences at UC Davis. They met with Mimi Rose, program coordinator for international programs; Martin Smith, UCCE specialist in the Department of Human Ecology; Ron Tjeerdema, associate dean for Environmental Sciences; Bruce Linquist, UCCE rice specialist; Jim Hill, emeritus UCCE specialist; and Louise Ferguson, UCCE specialist and founder of the Fruit and Nut Research and Information Center.
Anne Megaro, director of governmental and community relations, introduced the group to Gail Feenstra, deputy director and food systems coordinator of UC ANR's Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program, and Sonja Brodt, academic coordinator. Then they toured the Russell Ranch Sustainable Agriculture Facility with soil science post-doc Daoyuan Wang and the UC Davis Student Farm with its director Katharina Ullmann.
“They have extension in China, but it is not like ours,” said Megaro. “They are looking to strengthen their advisor positions and develop a mechanism for career advancement, similar to what we have in the U.S.”
The Chinese Extension Alliance Delegation wrapped up their tour at UC ANR's offices in Davis to learn about UC ANR's statewide programs. Jim Farrar discussed the Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program, Missy Gable described the Master Gardener Program, Shannon Horrillo talked about the 4-H youth development program, Greg Ira explained California Naturalist; and Katie Panarella covered the Nutrition, Family and Consumer Sciences, Expanded Food Nutrition Education (EFNEP) and Master Food Preserver programs.
Humiston, who met with the China-US University-based Agricultural Extension Alliance in China in March of 2017, said, “We look forward to collaborating with our agricultural extension colleagues in China.”
See more photos of the tour at https://www.flickr.com/gp/151501801@N07/YVBqk6.
FOOD IT: The Full Stack will be held June 26, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., at UCSF Mission Bay Conference Center and UC ANR is a sponsor.
If you missed early registration, you can get a 40 percent discount by using the code SPECIALSAUCE at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/food-it-the-full-stack-tickets-39785715145. Click on the blue text Enter promotional code above the “Order Now” button.
FOOD IT: “The Full Stack” will use the tech developers' full stack model to assess the current digitization of food and agriculture, to identify areas of progress as well as near-term developments needed to overcome impasse.
Action-oriented entrepreneurs, investors and representatives from leading global food and agriculture innovation hubs will gather to explore the challenges and innovations in each layer of the stack
The event will use four distinct elements to explore the progress of this development effort:
1. Moderated group discussions on the four layers of the stack
- Physical layer: digitizing food/ag physical world data
- Data layer: getting food/ag data flowing
- App layer: doing food/ag jobs with tech
- UI/UX layer: digitizing our interface with food
2. Food and ag tech start-ups will pitch to seasoned venture capitalists, vying to win the “Golden Blender Award.”
3. Interactive breakout sessions will give participants the opportunity to take a deep dive together for collaborative discussion of timely topics related to food, agriculture and technology.
4. At the Innovation Marketplace, innovators will demonstrate products, services and programs. UCANR will have a booth to introduce The VINE – The Verde Innovation Network for Entrepreneurship – to cultivate regional innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystems in rural communities. Led by GabrielYoutsey, UCANR chief innovation officer, The VINE connects entrepreneurs with resources such as small business development centers, community colleges, UC Cooperative Extension county offices, makers labs, incubators and accelerators.
“For the fifth year, thought leaders from the food, ag and tech sectors will once again gather for this thought-provoking event,” said Rob Trice, The Mixing Bowl's founder. “Through a day of interactive engagement, we will seek to better understand the whole picture and the full stack of food and ag digitization, the challenges and some of the solutions and technologies in each part of the stack.”
UCSF Mission Bay Conference Center is located at 1675 Owens St #251, San Francisco, CA 94158. General admission is $250 before applying the SPECIALSAUCE discount code. Register at bit.ly/FITFullStack.