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Murray State University/Memphis Bioworks Foundation partnership forges ahead

Initiatives to increase West Kentucky’s bioenergy crops and

 rural entrepreneurialism grow

MURRAY, Ky. — The West Kentucky AgBioworks® Initiative, based at the Regional Business and Innovation Center (RBIC) at Murray State University, is part of a regional, multi-state network focused on developing businesses to commercialize bioengery crops and biomass. The initiative shares a common brand and is focused on replicating the most promising technology, while each individual state partner works toward new rural industries and jobs in their state.

West Kentucky has a combination of assets including a diversity of biomass products, industrial infrastructure and superior logistics that offer a significant opportunity for economic development and job creation around a biomass production and processing industry for renewable energy, fuels, chemicals and materials.

West Kentucky AgBioworks, which is a partnership with Memphis Bioworks Foundation, has relationships with leading companies developing genetics, equipment and bioprocessing technology, and is leveraging these activities into ongoing agricultural field trials, technology adoption and development of farmer/forester-based businesses, focused on identified markets.

Recent grants from the Murray State Office of Regional Stewardship and the Kentucky Agriculture Development Fund are helping to launch the initiative in Kentucky through the formation of a new West Kentucky AgBioworks Farmer Network, establishment of a New Crops Demonstration Center at MSU, and the identification of potential customers, processing sites and business plan development for the commercialization of farmer-based bio-processing businesses.

Progress has already been made:

The Farmer Network has been formed with trial crop planting underway over the next month partnering with leading seed and technology companies – Betaseed (www.betaseed.com), Ceres (www.ceres.net), and BioDimensions (www.biodimensions.net).

• A successful crop season has already been completed at the Murray State University research farm researching new varieties of energy beets and sweet sorghum to develop a new supply of industrial sugars for the region. These sugars can be used to support existing ethanol facilities or as chemical feedstocks for area companies.
• Regional markets and processing opportunities are being identified for new biobased crops including specialty oilseeds, industrial sugar crops and new biomass crops.
• The first regional task force planning meeting with representatives from counties across West Kentucky was held in coordination with the Kentucky Agriculture Council to explore and develop new opportunities for the region

The West Kentucky AgBioworks program is made possible through the cooperation of Murray State’s Hutson School of Agriculture, college of business, college of science, engineering and technology, and the Regional Business and Innovation Center.

For more information on these initiatives, contact Loretta Daniel, RBIC director, at (270) 809-6071 or at loretta.daniel@murraystate.edu

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