Peels, stems and other parts of potatoes and vegetables left from harvesting and processing operations could provide a source for valuable chemicals and extra income for the agriculture industry in Wisconsin.
These residual materials are the target of a new project by WIST in coordination with Wisconsin growers and processors. The work is being funded by a grant to WIST of $499,965 from the U.S. Economic Development Administration under its Regional Innovation Strategies program. In addition to the grant funding, WIST and other participants will make in-kind contributions of staff time and other resources, bringing the total project value to $1,016,811.
The goal of the three-year project is to identify specific chemicals with commercialization potential and to build an entrepreneurial network of growers, processors, researchers and economic development professionals to identify and pursue opportunities.
Project participants include Del Monte Foods, which has three vegetable processing plants in the region; Heartland Farms, a central Wisconsin-based vegetable grower; Pavelski Legacy Partners, which manages and invests in a diverse portfolio of companies; Midwest Food Processors Association; and the Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association. The Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. and WiSys Technology Foundation, a nonprofit supporting UW technology transfer, will provide advice on commercialization strategies.