Cornell University

Innovations in Food Systems: Feeding a Growing World

Event Agenda


8:00 AM Breakfast and Registration
A light fare will be served in the atrium during registration.
8:30 AM Welcome
Alice Li, Executive Director, Center for Technology Licensing at Cornell University

Bob Buhrman, Senior Vice Provost for Research, and Vice President for Technology Transfer, Intellectual Property and Research Policy at Cornell University
8:40 AM Keynote Address: "Innovations in Food Systems: Feeding a Growing World"
Ron Meeusen, Managing Director, Cultivian Sandbox and Managing Partner, Cultivian Ventures

Abstract: We've all heard the sobering challenge. By 2050, according to the United Nations, we must produce 100% more food using less land and less water in the face of less predictable weather. The same study estimates that we can only wring 30% of that needed increase from today's best technologies. So most of that new production must come from technologies not yet identified, i.e., innovations. Failing that we face food shortages, or at the very least chronically high commodity prices. Hence the somber warnings. But is that pessimism justified? The determinant will be whether innovations in the pipeline today keep up with growing demand. And that will be a function of the pace of funding, as well as regulation and adoption. As a venture capital fund specializing in food and agtech, Cultivian Sandbox enjoys a fair view of today's pipeline. In this talk we will review the state of the innovation pipeline, the growing network of investors, and the sustainability impacts which appear to inevitably flow.
9:30 AM Remarks from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
Jan Nyrop Associate Dean, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cornell University

9:40 AM Focus Talk: "Creating New Genetic Variations"
An industry representative will provide a perspective on the current trends in crop science.

John Davies, Fellow, Trait Genetics and Technology Department, Dow AgroSciences

Abstract: Over the past two decades, new technologies enabling targeted modification of plant genomes have been developed. Among these is the EXZACT Precision Technology platform that uses zinc-finger nucleases (ZFNs). ZFNs are composed of engineered zinc-finger DNA binding domains fused with a nuclease; generally the FokI nuclease. The zinc-finger domains are composed of a series of four to six 30 amino acid domains that can bind to trinucleotide sequences giving the entire DNA binding domain specificity to 12 – 18 nucleotides. Since the FokI nuclease functions as a dimer, pairs of zinc-finger domains are designed to bind upstream and downstream of the cut site which increases the specificity of the complete ZFN to 24 – 36 nucleotides. The ability of these engineered nucleases to create targeted double-stranded breaks at designated locations throughout the genome has enabled precise deletion, addition and editing of genes. These techniques are being used to create new genetic variation by deleting or editing endogenous gene sequences and enhancing the efficiency of transgenic product development through targeted insertion of transgenes to specific genomic locations and to sequentially add and/or delete transgenes from existing transgenic events.
10:05 AM Networking Break
10:25 AM Panel Discussion: "Innovations and Insights in Plant Breeding"
A panel comprised of Cornell University professors and industry representatives will discuss the future of plant breeding and its role in the food systems landscape.

Moderator:
Jan Nyrop, Associate Dean, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cornell University
Director, Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station
Interim Director, NYS Agricultural Experiment Station, Geneva, NY
Professor, Entomology, Cornell University

Panelists will include:
Susan Brown, Professor, Plant Science, Cornell University;
Courtney Weber, Associate Professor, Plant Science, Cornell University;
Marc Fuchs, Associate Professor, Plant Science, Cornell University;
Satish Rai, Senior Technology Manager, KWS;
Jesse Munkvold, Genomics Scientist, Trait Genetics and Technologies (TG&T), Dow AgroSciences
11:25 AM Focus Talk: "Genome Editing for Plant Improvement"
Matthew Willmann, Director, Plant Transformation Facility, Cornell University

Abstract: Genome editing is a tool for making specific genetic changes at a targeted location in a genome. This technology, also called targeted mutagenesis, has been possible in bacteria, yeast, and mammalian systems for many years, but genome editing has only recently become efficient and widespread in plant research. The most wide-ranging breakthrough for genome editing in plant science came in 2013, when the highly versatile CRISPR/Cas9 genome-editing system was first applied to plants. CRISPR/Cas9 provides targeted mutagenesis of DNA based on complementarity between a specific RNA called a guide RNA (gRNA) and a DNA target site. Here we will discuss the technology and how it can be used for plant improvement.
11:50 AM Lunch
A buffet lunch featuring a selection of Cornell and New York produced food & beverage.
12:20 PM Dessert and Keynote Address: "Digital Agriculture: Technology Innovation in Complex Production Environments"
Harold van Es, Professor, Plant Science, Cornell University

Abstract: Agriculture and the worldwide food system are challenged to feed a global population of 10B people by 2050 with diminishing land and water resources. Digital agriculture offers new opportunities through the ubiquitous availability of highly interconnected and data- intensive computational technologies. The tools that enable digital agriculture are multiple and varied, and include cross cutting technologies such as computational decision and analytics tools. Animal-focused technologies include radio frequency identification, and automated (robotic) milking and feeding systems, among others. Controlled-environment agriculture (greenhouses, indoor farms, etc.) is also increasingly enabled by digital technologies like sensors, controllers and robots. Unlike most other production systems, agriculture is complex and involves interacting physical, biological, and chemical processes. Digital technologies can help address these complexities to attain higher production efficiencies and sustainability in farming.
12:50 PM Focus Talk: "Food Safety from Farm to Fork"
Betsy Bihn, Senior Extension Associate, Food Science, Cornell University

Abstract: This talk will explore each step in the food production chain from farm to fork focusing on food safety. It will also include a broad overview of the Cornell Food Science Facilities.
1:15 PM Focus Talk: "Innovation in Agricultural Biotech: Building a Product-Focused Company to Meet Industry Challenges"
Dan Tomso, Chief Scientific Officer, AgBiome

Abstract: AgBiome was founded in 2012 with the vision of becoming the most successful agricultural innovation company ever. The founding team completed a Series A financing round in mid-2013. From the beginning, the company represented a unique blend of expertise, passion, and focused investment. Investors included established venture capital and investment firms (ARCH Venture Partners, Polaris Partners, Innotech Advisors, and Harris and Harris Group), as well as an unusual mix of strategic investors (Monsanto Growth Ventures, Syngenta Ventures, and Novozymes). A subsequent investment round added additional diversity to the investment team, with The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and UTIMCO both adding direct investments. The company has also successfully negotiated substantial R&D and commercialization agreements with a variety of partners in the agriculture industry, including Syngenta, Genective, and SePro. AgBiome has launched our first product, HowlerTM fungicide, after completing development and pre-launch activities in less than 4 years. In this presentation, we will review the team, philosophy, and experiences of the company, and will comment on the state of the industry with regard to both innovation and investment. We will also describe the distinguishing features of our company culture, which is non-hierarchical, self-organizing, and fluid. We believe our structure and culture create sustainable benefits in a highly competitive industry.
1:40 PM Networking Break
2:00 PM Remarks from the College of Veterinary Medicine
Alex Travis, Associate Dean for International Programs & Public Health, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University
2:10 PM Focus Talk: "Vaccines to Enhance Animal Safety and Productivity "
This presentation will explore how animal health vaccines are playing a role in food systems.

Roy Curtiss, Professor, Department of Infectious Diseases and Pathology, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida

Abstract: My group is actively involved in the design, construction and evaluation of safe efficacious recombinant attenuated Salmonella vaccines (RASV) to prevent a diversity of bacterial and parasite infectious diseases of fish (using Edwardsiella vectors), poultry, swine and humans. Many of the infectious diseases targeted for prevention in poultry cause significant morbidity, mortality and carcass condemnation at slaughter such that vaccination will enhance animal productivity by reducing these losses while enhancing food safety by reducing transmission of especially enteric pathogens through the food chain to humans. Use of these vaccines to prevent animal infections with bacterial pathogens will also reduce use of antibiotics and thus lessen pressures for selection of drug-resistant bacterial pathogens. Since rodents consume more than 10% of all food produced globally, we are developing immuno-contraceptive RASVs delivering sperm- and egg-specific antigens to induce sterility. RASVs are produced in fermentors and lyophilized in a thermo-stable condition for reconstitution at time and place for needle-free oral, bath or spray administration.
2:35 PM Panel Discussion: "Innovations Addressing the Need for Increased Animal Source Food Production"
A mix of Cornell professors and industry experts will discuss current and emerging trends in the animal health space.

Moderator:
Bob Nordgren, Managing Director, The Yield Lab

Panelists will include:
Rodrigo Bicalho, Associate Professor, Dairy Production Medicine, Cornell University;
Daryl Van Nydam, Associate Professor, Population Medicine and Diagnostic Sciences, Cornell University;
Greg Sumner, Independent Consultant for the Animal Health Industry;
Peter Selover, Principal, Oriole Animal Heath
3:35 PM Networking Break
3:55 PM Panel Discussion: "Insights into Venture Capital Investing"
Venture Capitalists investing at all stages of the pipeline will share insights from their experiences.

Moderator:
Ron Meeusen, Managing Director, Cultivian Sandbox and Managing Partner, Cultivian Ventures

Panelists will include:
Michael Helmstetter, Co-Founder, President and CEO, TechAccel;
Bob Nordgren, Managing Director, The Yield Lab;
Brita Rosenheim, Partner, The Mixing Bowl
4:55 PM Startup Pitches & Emerging Technologies
A selection of Cornell startups and inventors focused in the agriculture space will present about their innovations.

Microalgae in Chicken Feed
Xingen Lei, Professor, Animal Science, Cornell University

Bactana Animal Health
John Kallassy, Chief Executive Officer

FloraPulse
Zach Leidig, Chief Executive Officer

ZYMtronix
Stephane Corgie, Founder and Chief Technology Officer
5:45 PM Networking Reception
Hors d’oeuvres and beverages will be served in the atrium.