NEW YORK, March 02, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Big Idea Ventures LLC today announces the appointment of Bette Brand, former Deputy Under Secretary for USDA Rural Development and Bill Northey, former Under Secretary for USDA Farm Production and Conservation as senior advisors to the General Food Rural Partners (GFRP) fund.
Recently launched, GFRP is a $125 million target fund that will drive economic development in rural communities through the commercialization of university-developed intellectual property. North Carolina State University is the fund’s inaugural collaborator.
Brand and Northey will use their extensive experience to advise the GFRP fund managers on how best to identify the rural communities ideal for locating new businesses and assisting the Big Idea Ventures team with expanding its networks in agriculture and food innovation industries.
“I’m very glad to be a part of this advisory team,” Brand said. “My entire career has been focused on helping farmers build economically viable businesses so they can raise food to feed the world. This fund continues that path in a new and unique way.”
Brand is the president and CEO of Strategic Consulting LLC of Roanoke, Virginia. She served with USDA Rural Development for more than three years, eventually as Deputy Under Secretary where she led a team of 4,500 in 477 field offices committed to helping improve the economy and quality of life in rural America. Agencies under her oversight included Rural Housing Service, Rural Utilities Service and Rural Business-Cooperative Service. Prior to USDA, Brand was with Farm Credit of the Virginias for 16 years and various roles in other farm credit organizations since 1982.
“The GFRP fund is an example of private industry innovating to both stimulate rural economies and further develop ag-related intellectual property coming from our top schools,” said Northey. “It’s a privilege to be involved.”
Northey was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as an Under Secretary for USDA in February 2018. He led the Farm Production and Conservation Mission Area overseeing the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Risk Management Agency and the Farm Service Agency. Prior to his work at USDA, Northey served as the Iowa Secretary of Agriculture from 2007-2018. He and his family operate a fourth-generation corn and soybean farm in northwest Iowa.
“It’s an honor to have Bette and Bill as a part of our advisory team,” said Tom Mastrobuoni, chief investment officer for Big Idea Ventures. “They bring a unique national, high-level perspective that will help us activate GFRP in the most effective and impactful way, driving innovation and economic development in rural communities.”
“Big Idea Ventures is glad to bring onboard thought leaders and advisors like Bette and Bill to the GFRP fund,” said Andrew D. Ive, founder and general managing partner of Big Idea Ventures. “They know the intricacies of agriculture and rural development and will help make this effort a success for the communities, the universities and the investors in the fund.”
The GFRP fund will establish venture centers to facilitate collaboration with multiple leading U.S. universities. BIV will staff the venture centers with team members experienced in evaluating intellectual property to work with the universities to identify and evaluate new developments with the strongest commercialization potential and the fund will then invest in new companies formed around the groundbreaking research. These new companies will be headquartered in rural communities near the collaborating universities. The GFRP team expects the first of these to open in conjunction with the initial closing of capital commitments.
About Big Idea Ventures
Big Idea Ventures (BIV) is solving the world’s greatest challenges by supporting the world’s best entrepreneurs. Big Idea Ventures develops the most globally strategic funds delivering significant investor returns while addressing real world challenges. BIV is focused on alternative protein with its New Protein Fund, and innovations in the food industry to solve challenges in waste, water use, plastic use and carbon dioxide with its Generation Food Fund. www.bigideaventures.com
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