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June 3, 2014

MSU partnership accelerates bio-based projects

The Michigan Translational Research and Commercialization Program for the Bio-Economy, launched by MSU and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, announces the first three BioAg projects selected for grants to help make them broadly available for consumer use.

Supported by The MSU Innovation Center and the Office of the Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies, MSU MTRAC was established through a grant from the MEDC 21st Century Jobs Trust Fund, with matching funds from MSU for a total of $2.4 million. These funds are focused on one of the university’s core strengths: Ag/Bio science and technology, and will be used to accelerate commercial development on bio-based projects during the next three years.

Bruno Basso - GeoYields

GeoYields is a comprehensive crop yield model system, enabling higher crop production with more efficient use of inputs, such as fertilizers and irrigation. The grant will upgrade the scalability of existing models to allow their use in precision agricultural applications, along with the integration of drone data. This technology will allow farmers a “bird’s eye view” of their fields in HD, to realize the potential of precision agriculture.

Basso is an associate professor in the Department of Geological Sciences at MSU.

Bruce Dale - AFEX Pretreatment Technology

This project demonstrates the large scale production of bio-based chemicals using MSU’s patented Ammonia Fiber EXpansion pretreatment technology for cellulose-based feedstocks. The ability to process cellulosic feedstocks in a cost-effective way has long been the limiting factor in using non-food crops and crop residues to produce biofuels and other useful chemicals.

Dale is a professor of chemical engineering at MSU, University Distinguished Professor; MSUAgBioResearch. Dale is the associate director of the University's Office of Bio-based Technologies, and the principal investigator at the Biomass Conversion Research Laboratory.

Gemma Reguera - Electrochemical BioReactor

Reguera has developed a novel electrochemical bioreactor design which can convert low-cost pretreated feedstocks, such as corn stover, into useful end products such as ethanol and biobutanol. If successfully developed to full industrial scale, these electrochemical bioreactors could significantly reduce the cost of bio-based industrial chemicals.

Reguera is the principal investigator at the Reguera Lab in the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics at MSU.

For more information about the MSU MTRAC program, visit