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Virginia Tech partners with commonwealth, Israeli food company

January 19, 2017

Israel chickpeas
College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Associate Dean and Director of International Programs Tom Thompson (second from left) examines experiments to improve productivity and disease resistance of chickpeas in Israel.

Virginia Tech and Israel-based food company Strauss Group have launched an initiative that opens the door for international public-private partnerships while finding solutions to meet the challenge of feeding a global population.

Three professors from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, as well as representatives of Virginia’s Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission, the Virginia Israel Advisory Board in the Office of the Governor, and others will make up a panel of experts that will travel to Israel this month. The panel will hear pitches from businesses looking to expand into U.S. markets in fields ranging from food safety and soil sciences to aquaculture and nutrition.

The panel's visit is part of a larger agreement among Virginia Tech, the commonwealth, and Strauss to grow agricultural and food science business opportunities both in Virginia and Israel.

“Through this agreement, Virginia Tech and the Commonwealth of Virginia have a great opportunity to not only help find solutions to the challenge of feeding an additional 2 billion people globally, but also to increase partnerships that will fund research and promote economic growth,” said Tom Thompson, the college’s associate dean and director of international programs and part of the panel.

This is one of a number of recent agreements between Virginia Tech and private industry that  make it easier for businesses to explore partnership opportunities. 

The agreement between the university and Strauss, which was signed in July 2016 , states, “joint activities of Strauss and Virginia Tech will lead to the development and strengthening of economic, industrial, technological, and commercial cooperation between Israel and the Commonwealth of Virginia.”

Similar initiatives have taken place in the past year, such as when an Israel-based dairy equipment company donated equipment to the university’s pilot plant to help the dairy fermentation industry grow in the commonwealth and beyond.

“These partnerships are helping to grow innovation here in Virginia and around the world,” said Joe Marcy, head of the Department of Food Science and Technology. “Much like what we have done with other industries using our pilot plant to research and test new food arenas of food science, this agreement will help drive the industry in the state, create jobs, spur new research, and educate the next generation of food scientists.”

Others are equally excited by the partnership.

“Over the last decade we have created a pipeline of Israeli ventures that have found their U.S. homes in Virginia,” said Ralph Robbins, executive director of the Virginia-Israel Advisory Board in the governor’s office. “This cooperative venture with the Strauss Group will strengthen Virginia and Israel’s business development.”

“We wish to promote tech development toward healthy food solutions and improving the quality of life for consumers worldwide. The agriculture and food tech industries are ripe for growth, and we are looking forward to playing an important role,” said Eyal Shimoni, vice president of Technologies at the Strauss Group.

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