Innovations created by LSU AgCenter scientists flow beyond the boundaries of Louisiana. As of April 2018, AgCenter innovations are licensed on six of the world’s seven continents – all but Antarctica. Those licenses generate royalty revenue not only to help build the AgCenter’s network across the world but also to further the AgCenter’s mission of serving Louisiana through research and extension programs.
The AgCenter’s farthest reaching and most financially successful inventions are rice varieties. The rice research program has generated over $60 million in royalty revenue, and LSU AgCenter rice varieties are known and grown across the world. A key factor in the rice varieties’ success is the herbicide-tolerant trait being bred into the right varieties that have been tested and trialed through the AgCenter’s expert guidance. The AgCenter has left its mark on the rice world over the past 20 years with its herbicide-tolerant rice varieties and commitment to excellence, and the researchers are constantly striving to increase the breadth and depth of the AgCenter’s impact with new innovations such as hybrid rice varieties, embracing technological advances in genomics and breeding, and partnering with other institutions.
In addition to rice, the LSU AgCenter has developed a reputation worldwide as the leader in sweet potato innovation, both breeding and development. Over the past 10 years, AgCenter scientists have released sweet potato varieties that have improved yield, taste, color and other desirable characteristics. Unlike rice, which is licensed to one entity, sweet potatoes are licensed to dozens of entities, and the royalty revenue numbers are far less concrete but, in fact, are in the millions. These varieties have allowed the Sweet Potato Research Station, in Chase, Louisiana, to flourish as a center for knowledge and insight for the growers of Louisiana and beyond. As the reputation of the sweet potato breeding program has grown, so has its footprint throughout the world. The AgCenter has sweet potato licensees and partners in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe and South America. In addition, AgCenter sweet potatoes are grown across the United States and in Canada. The sweet potato program continues to expand with new varieties, innovative approaches to partnerships, and expanded markets to territories once considered unsuitable for sweet potato growth.
Beyond traditional crops, the AgCenter is the source of innovations in agricultural engineering, agricultural chemistry, renewable natural resources, and many other areas. It is in the School of Renewable Natural Resources where TigerBullets was invented. This unique material is used in drilling fluid to reduce lost circulation in oil-drilling wells. This technology created a new business and jobs in Louisiana, and the TigerBullets technology has been used by multinational corporations from Vietnam to the Gulf of Mexico, including BP, Chevron, Exxon and Schlumberger.
The LSU AgCenter strives to improve sustainability and search for more effective solutions to local and world problems while being good stewards of resources. Through the AgCenter’s Global Network, the AgCenter Intellectual Property Office has had the privilege of working with the Visegrad University Association, a conglomerate of universities from Eastern Europe and surrounding areas devoted to advancement in agriculture. The AgCenter has orchestrated partnerships between AgCenter researchers and Visegrad University Association members to facilitate joint innovation, and those research efforts will bring AgCenter innovation to even more places across the globe.
From drilling fluids in Vietnam to sweet potato fields in South Africa to rice fields in Italy, the LSU AgCenter has extended its reach around the globe and will continue to live its mission of educating, innovating and improving lives at home and abroad.
Alana Fernandez is the associate director of the LSU AgCenter Office of Intellectual Property.
This article appears in the spring 2018 issue of Louisiana Agriculture.