New Member Spotlight: Purdue DIAL Ventures

April 15, 2024

Organization Name: Purdue DIAL Ventures


What industry/sector do you best identify with? Agribusiness & Food Companies

What about your organization or company's work are you most proud of?

The Digital Innovation in Agri-Food Lab (DIAL) was created in 2021 as part of Purdue University's Next Moves 2.0 initiative. DIAL Ventures leads and fosters digital innovation across the agriculture and food ecosystem to advance the world toward a safer, more sustainable, and equitable place. Through its unique venture studio model, DIAL launches advantaged startup companies designed to make an immediate impact in the marketplace.

Purdue DIAL Ventures has three main goals: 1) Creating a positive impact at scale in the agrifood industry, 2) attracting and empowering high-level entrepreneurial talent for the agri-food industry, and 3) creating financial returns for industry partners that invest in DIAL.

In its first 2 years of existence, Purdue DIAL Ventures successfully launched 6 companies. The first, called Croft, tackles the labor issue in the industry by digitizing and streamlining the H2A visa process for farms across the US. The second company, Oaken, facilitates and digitizes the relationship between landowners and farmers. The third company, Gripp, simplifies and digitizes the maintenance process for equipment in agri-food companies. Harrow is a marketplace for data exchange; Nuel is a data refinery solution to inform supply chain logistics; and Triton is a precision water utilization software for growers in the western U.S. Also, DIAL has graduated 18 fellows in the same period.

Please highlight key trends affecting your industry:

Sustainability/Regenerative Agriculture, Traceability and Transparency, and Data Inter-/Intra- Operability. Moving research to the marketplace is typically long and arduous. DIAL Ventures changes that. The Agrifood industry needs discoveries translated quickly, introducing innovations that can rapidly affect changes in the market. DIAL Ventures is perfectly positioned to bring together industry expertise, entrepreneurial talent, and Purdue’s highly ranked faculty and technology assets to make this happen. DIAL Ventures creates innovative companies based on emerging trends and opportunities, using a rigorous and well-defined process to achieve success.  

Through innovation we strive to make the lives of all of us in this distributed manufacturing system that we love, increasingly better for years to come.

Please explain a few key opportunities & challenges your organization will face over the next 5 years:

At Purdue DIAL Ventures we tackle big problems facing the U.S. and the world such as food safety, supply chain shortages, sustainability, and environmental impact. We do this through a three-part strategy:  

1.) A one-of-a-kind playbook: Through its partnership with High Alpha Innovation, a leader in the venture studio world, Purdue DIAL Ventures was able to develop an open innovation process to discover the most pressing issues in our industry, presented by those who are experiencing these problems in their business, our industry partners. Then solutions are ideated and prioritized, until 3 concepts are pitched, with a potential pre-seed investment to those that meet our high-level evaluation criteria.  

2.) The fellowship program: This program attracts and trains entrepreneurs with backgrounds across all industries and technologies. A fellow is a top-performing entrepreneur typically with experience launching tech startups outside of the agri-food industry, thereby bringing a fresh perspective to long-standing industry challenges as they engage agri-food industry partners, brainstorm creative solutions, help develop concept pitches, and launch a startup, and have the potential to serve as founders in the new, growing business.  

3.) Smart capital: DIAL Ventures created a venture fund to nance the operation and invest in its startups. This strategy engages sector leaders as partners & investors to fund startup creation and pre-seed capital in exchange for equity. But these companies are also fundamental in the open innovation process that helps DIAL uncover the industry’s most pressing challenges, vet potential solutions, and even potentially position these companies as the first customers of the startups created.

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