Representatives from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation broke ground Wednesday, October 23 on a new, state-of-the-art greenhouse in the Research Park.
The planned greenhouse will support a research project, “Realizing Increased Photosynthetic Efficiency” (RIPE) for sustainable increases in crop yield, led by Illinois researchers Steve Long and Don Ort. RIPE is funded by the Gates Foundation, the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, and the UK Government’s Department for International Development.
The greenhouse will be a modern plant phenotyping facility and joins a growing agtech cluster in the Research Park that includes major global seed companies, equipment manufacturers, retailers, and bioprocessing leaders.
“The RIPE project is a spectacular example of the way Illinois is leading forward to sustainably feed our growing global population. Advancements in the digital agriculture space, including this phenotyping facility and our new Center for Digital Agriculture, are needed to make that goal a reality. We’re grateful to the Gates Foundation, as well as Drs. Long and Ort, for their commitment,” said Kim Kidwell, Dean of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at Illinois.
Located on Fourth Street, just south of St. Mary’s Road, the building will be owned by the University of Illinois and operated by the College of ACES in collaboration with the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology. Fox/Atkins Development will construct the greenhouse, with September 2020 as the projected completion date.