What is the Sun Grant Initiative?
The Sun Grant Initiative is a national network of land-grant universities, federal agencies and national laboratories partnering to help develop a bio-based economy. With more than 150 years of experience in agricultural and natural resource research and a network of field-based research sites in every major biogeographic zone in every state and territory of the country, land-grant universities are at the forefront of research and innovation involving bioenergy, biofuels and bio-based products. They have a unique tradition of sharing the results of their research by working with farmers, ranchers and foresters through extension outreach in the community and classroom education efforts. The Sun Grant Initiative builds on this successful history and harnesses the land-grant network to tackle the new challenges of developing bio-based transportation fuels, bio power and new bio-based products.
The SGI mission is to develop, distribute and implement bio-based energy technologies to:
- Enhance national energy security;
- Provide opportunities for rural economic development in America’s traditional agricultural communities;
- Promote environmentally sustainable and diversified production opportunities for agricultural and forestry resources; and
- Encourage further bioenergy research collaboration between government agencies and land-grant colleges and universities.
Congress authorized the Sun Grant Initiative in the 2002, 2008 and 2014 Farm Bills. Sun Grant efforts have been supported with funds from the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Defense, Energy and Transportation (USDA, DOD, DOE and DOT, respectively). This report covers the period from 2008-2017.
South Dakota State University is one of five regional Sun Grant Centers charged with implementing the SGI’s goals for furthering a bio-based economy. The North Central Regional Sun Grant Center includes 10 states: Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Wyoming. The other regional centers are located at Pennsylvania State University (Northeast Region), Oklahoma State University (South Central Region), Oregon State University (Western Region) and the University of Tennessee (Southeast Region).
In addition to enhancing its own efforts in bioenergy and biomass research, each regional Sun Grant Center is charged with administering a regional competitive grants program. This report summarizes some of the ongoing or recently completed research activities funded through the NCRSGC. In addition, the NCRSGC led two DOE-funded projects that were national in scope.
Between 2008 and 2017, NCRSGC has been awarded and administered approximately $58 million in federal funding from the Departments of Agriculture, Defense, Energy and Transportation. Through various partners, $10.5 million in cost share has also been utilized for important bioenergy related projects throughout the region (Figure 1).
Projects funded through the NCRSGC have developed intellectual property and led to economic development through the creation of jobs in the region (Figure 2, top); helped develop a highly skilled workforce through training of undergraduate students, graduate students and post-doctoral researchers (Figure 2, middle); and generated and communicated to diverse audiences new scientific knowledge and understanding related to the emerging bio economy (Figure 2, bottom).