Gates Foundation to set up new ag center in St. Louis

St. Louis just added to its place as the pre-eminent ag-tech hub in the United States. 

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced Jan. 21 that it is creating a new nonprofit, Bill & Melinda Gates Agricultural Innovations LLC, which “seeks to accelerate the development of innovations supported by the foundation’s Agricultural Development team.”

The entity, to be known as Gates Ag One, aims to quickly funnel tools and innovations developed by the foundation to smallholder farmers in developing countries, many of them women, to “sustainably improve crop productivity and adapt to the effects of climate change,” according to the foundation’s website. 

The website reported that the new nonprofit will be located in St. Louis and led by Joe Cornelius, currently a director within the foundation’s Global Growth & Opportunity division. Devex quoted Rodger Voorhies, the division’s president, saying, “We didn’t think that [our] research was flowing down to the crops that matter most to smallholder farmers in a timeframe that could reach them.”

Gates Ag One will collaborate with a diverse community of regional and international public- and private-sector partners, as well as interested governments, to enable the advancement of resilient, yield-enhancing seeds and traits globally and facilitate the introduction of those breakthroughs into specific crops essential to smallholder farmers, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

St. Louis is already home to ag-tech and ag-research companies including the Danforth Plant Science Center, Bayer Crop Science, the Missouri Botanical Garden, Yield Lab, DuPont, BASF, Bunge North America, KWS, Zoetis, AgriLabs, Boehringer Ingelheim and more.

The foundation said that the new nonprofit is “still in the early planning stages,” and that it looks forward to sharing additional details in the future. 

David Murray can be reached at [email protected].