In 2016, Rhode Island voters approved a $20M state bond to fund Innovation Campus projects jointly led by the University of Rhode Island (URI) and the Rhode Island Governor's office. In 2018, sixteen proposals were submitted to the program, and the Rhode Island Agricultural Innovation & Entrepreneurship Campus was one of three winning proposals.
American Ag Energy is developing The Agricultural Innovation & Entrepreneurship Campus along with several key partners: Rhode Island Mushroom Company, a leading grower and distributor of restuarant quality mushrooms (https://www.rimushrooms.com/), Verinomics, a genomics and computational biology company founded by Yale professor Steve Dellaporta (https://verinomics.com/), and VoloAgri, a vegetable seed company specialized in breeding for open field and protected crops (https://voloagri.com/).
The Rhode Island Agricultural Innovation & Entrepreneurship Campus plan includes several components: 20 acres of indoor vegetable greenhouses, 7.5 acres of indoor mushrooms growing facilities, 5 acres for seed development, and 1.5 acres for plant and fungus genomic research. The state is providing 5 million USD to fund the initial development.
The Agriculture Innovation Center will help connect URI students, professors, and agricultural professionals and foster a climate of entrepreneurship. With the AIC lab space, students and professors can work to solve some of the industry’s biggest problems, such as developing a water soluble organic fertilizer and building automated machinery for greenhouse use.
The project is currently in the process of securing all necessary permits from state and local authorities related to archaeology, transportation, alteration of terrain, wetland delineation, and air quality. Construction on the project is expected to begin in late 2022.
The Agriculture Innovation Center will help connect URI students, professors, and agricultural professionals to work on cutting edge challenges in agricultural technology.
In addition to creating high paying non-academic jobs in greenhouse operations, the project will provide fresh, high quality, and affordable produce to local and regional markets year round.
Much like our Berlin NH facility, the greenhouses will save signifiant amounts of energy, water, and land compared to outdoor farming.
URI President David M. Dooley speaks as he and Gov. Gina Raimondo announce the first round of RI Innovation Campus projects. URI photo by Michael Salerno Photography.