By Kelcy Dolan, Warwick Beacon
Posted Feb. 11, 2016
CRANSTON, RI — Walking into Agcore Technologies’ greenhouse in Cranston is like walking into a science fiction movie. There are more than 100 eight-foot tall tanks filled with dark green water that has air bubbling up through the filtration system.
Reinforcing the impression that this is science fiction, company president Lawrence Dressler talks about their “superfood” product spirulina, a type of algae. This blue-green algae has more antioxidants than blueberries, more beta-carotene than carrots, more iron than spinach, more protein than steak, more calcium than milk, is GMO and gluten free as well as vegan approved.
Although he isn’t purchasing Agcore products, spirulina is the same superfood Tom Brady’s chef said is critical in the New England Patriots quarterback’s diet.
Agcore does work on human nutrition, but currently the company’s focus is on producing and improving animal nutrition, mostly fish feed.
Dressler explained Wednesday morning that fishkeeping is one of the world’s most popular hobbies and aquaculture is the fastest growing sector in the food industry globally.
“But Mother Nature can’t keep up,” Dressler said. Products such as Agcore’s spirulina supplement food sources for the very fish that eventually go to market for consumers.
In January, Agcore was awarded a $50,000 Innovation Voucher from the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation to fund a partnership with the University of Rhode Island for research and development (R&D).
The Innovation Voucher Program was created last year and issued nearly $500,000 worth of grants to 11 small businesses in January. The funding is to foster partnerships between local small business with universities, research or medical centers.
On Wednesday morning Governor Gina Raimondo and Secretary of Commerce Stefan Pryor visited the Agcore Technologies facility.
“This is where Rhode Island needs to go,” Raimondo said.
“In order to bring high-skill, high-wage jobs to Rhode Island, we need to foster innovation and support the growth of research and development partnerships.”
Last year, the program received more than 30 grant applications and funded 11 projects. With such success in the program Raimondo and Pryor explained that in the coming fiscal year they would like to see the program tripled, with $1.5 million to distribute to businesses across the state.
“Increasing innovation is a key way for us to advance our economy. With eleven Innovation Voucher recipients pursuing cutting-edge research with university partners, we are on our way,” Pryor said.
To begin the tour Raimondo sampled a blueberry smoothie made with Agcore’s spirulina product. She was quick to say the smoothie was “truly delicious.”
Agcore will be working with the University of Rhode Island to further develop their fish food products. Similarly, Agcore is looking to expand here in Rhode Island and triple their capacity with a brand new greenhouse and hiring more employees.
Dressler said that this grant acts as a “game changer” for the company, being able to move the business further, faster.
“Under Governor Raimondo’s leadership, small businesses like mine have access to great tools – which make it easier for us to stay in RI and grow,” he said.
David Dooley, president of URI, said that the university offers unique opportunities for the private sector to access experts and “cutting edge research and development.”
“The voucher program is an excellent way for our students and faculty to apply their knowledge to solve the real world challenges businesses face when they want to develop an idea or commercialize a product,” he said.
For more information on the Innovation Voucher, please visit http://commerceri.com/finance-business/taxes-incentives/innovation-vouchers.
For more information on Agcore Technologies visit their website at www.agcoretech.net.
This article originally published by the Warwick Beacon.