Radicle Corn Value Chain Challenge Effort

Radicle Growth, a company-building platform investing in early-stage agriculture and food technologies, announced “The Radicle Corn Value Chain Challenge sponsored by US Corn Farmers.” As a partner in the effort, Kansas Corn participated in the announcement at the Commodity Classic held recently in Houston. The Challenge sets out to invest a minimum of US $1.5M in start-up and growth companies from around the world whose innovative technologies and business models create new uses for corn and long-term sustainable demand for corn production. These companies are expected to be developing new uses of corn that result in replacements for fossil fuel-derived materials with plant-derived materials such as sustainable aviation fuels (SAF), drop-in chemicals and plastics, compostable materials, and as yet unidentified products and product categories that could be new areas for corn-derived products to be used.

At a recent meeting, Kansas Corn Commission voted to invest in the Radicle Corn Value Chain Challenge.

“A focus of KCC is to invest in new use projects that have a higher potential of commercialization. We can invest in efforts to find new uses for corn, but if they sit on the shelf, that investment doesn’t help farmers. This project seeks out startups and growth companies who are a step ahead to bring innovative uses to the market and create new demand for corn in a relatively short timeframe,” KCC Chairman Kent Moore, Iuka, said.

Kansas Corn is partnering on this project with Iowa Corn, National Corn Growers Association and state corn organizations from Illinois, Kentucky, South Dakota, and Colorado.

“As the corn industry continues to expand in Iowa and around the country, the surplus of corn carryout is forecasted to increase. Through the Radicle Corn Value Chain Challenge, we will be able to explore innovative uses for this surplus and have the potential to unlock new revenue streams for corn farmers,” said Stan Nelson, Iowa Corn Promotion Board President and a farmer from Middletown, Iowa. “By embracing innovation and demand growth, we can ensure the long-term profitability of all U.S. corn growers and contribute to the economic growth of the country.”

Corn is grown on nearly 100 million acres in the United States. Approximately 48% of corn production is used for animal feed, 30% is used for biofuels, and 22% is for exports and other uses. Corn production is typically responsible for more than $80B of annual value in the United States. Corn farmers across the Midwest produce the bulk of that corn, assuring the vitality of rural communities and driving this economy, and agricultural and downstream market trends are impacting that growth engine. In addition to new demand from new uses, more sustainable corn production systems overall will enhance the demand for any new bio-product in a highly competitive marketplace. With the continuing revolution in AI, biotechnology, and new business models throughout the corn value chain, the project partners anticipate identifying companies able to modify the corn crop, biological and thermochemical processing of the corn crop, high-value health applications, sustainable fuels, and sustainable bioproducts.

“Driving new demand for U.S. corn is a top priority for NCGA and its state partners,” said Harold Wolle, National Corn Growers Association president. “We’re proud to partner with supporting states on this innovative challenge as another way NCGA is working to find new uses for corn and provide sustainable product solutions for consumers.”

Kirk Haney, Managing Partner of Radicle Growth, said: “Feeding and providing plant-based materials for our growing population is paramount. We recognize that to transform our agriculture system and advance solutions in the food and industrial value chains sustainably, we need to find new technologies working to create new uses for corn. We are excited about the opportunity to benefit US corn farmers by finding and funding the best entrepreneurs worldwide who solve these issues.”

A minimum of US $1.5 million investment will be made in The Radicle Corn Value Chain Challenge to one or more winners to accelerate their growth. Apply now at https://radicle.vc/the-radicle-corn-value-chain-sponsored-by-us-corn-farmers/

Investment decisions will be made during a “Pitch Day” in the Fall of 2024. A judging panel of industry experts will hear from 4 finalists who will be chosen from the global applicant pool. In addition to the funding, the winners will also get access to advice from both corn industry experts and Radicle senior executives to help accelerate their company’s business and technical efforts.

The Kansas Corn Commission is a grower-elected board that invests the 1-cent-per-bushel Kansas corn checkoff in the areas of market development, education, research and promotion.