This week, Intellectual Ventures (IV) and one of Europe’s leading food-production companies announced the establishment of a jointly-owned company in Finland, called Benemilk Oy. In the new venture, our Invention Development Fund will partner with Raisio to develop and market new inventions and technologies that make milk production safer, more efficient and more environmentally responsible. I’m excited about the opportunity to team our expertise and 4,000-strong inventor network with a partner who can help us advance agricultural practices and address the global problem of ensuring food sufficiency.
The world continues to face a series of challenges related to large-scale food production, including food safety, quality, efficiency and environmental impact. These challenges persist despite the fact that nutritional science itself is undergoing a renaissance of sorts. We’ve seen crises in the agricultural supply chain in places as diverse as Kenya and China. In response, the United Nations has formed a high-level task force on global food security. But even institutions as notable as the UN are limited in their ability to drive innovation. IV’s worldwide ecosystem of inventors, research organizations and industry partners uniquely positions us to solve big problems like these. We can take the recent breakthroughs in nutritional science and make them count in the real world.
The Benemilk® invention is one of the most promising approaches we have seen to improving food production. It’s a cattle-feed supplement that increases the protein content of milk while reducing greenhouse-gas emissions from cows’ digestive systems. Research shows it also increases daily milk yield by more than two quarts per cow and raises feed efficiency by more than 10%. And it makes for happier cows—they prefer the Benemilk® feed over ordinary feed—as well as happier farmers, since a Benemilk®-fed cow produces on average one more calf during its breeding lifetime.
We are greatly encouraged by the potential impact Benemilk® and related ideas could have. It’s a common belief that “we are what we eat,” but many people still struggle to maintain healthy diets. It’s certainly much easier to control the diets of farm animals and make sure that the food we derive from them is of optimal benefit to people and the planet.
I realize that farming and agriculture may seem like a stretch for IV, which has established its reputation in the field of IT. But from the start, we’ve sought out any new ideas that address an important need or problem in society. We believe in supporting great inventions in all areas of technological discovery, and we put our money where our mouth is. We currently manage a diverse invention portfolio with over 40,000 assets in more than 50 technology areas, from healthcare to clean energy to metamaterials. We’ve paid inventors over $400 million for a broad range of ideas, and we’ve spun out both a nuclear-energy company and a company with a revolutionary surface antenna technology based on those ideals.
Benemilk Oy is yet another step in our quest to provide the world with more and better inventions. You can find more details about the new company in Raisio’s announcement.
August 1, 2013 UPDATE
Our collaboration with Raisio has reached its first milestone. Raisio announced today that ten inventions sourced by Intellectual Ventures on behalf of the Benemilk Oy joint venture have been filed as patent applications. Our own Chris Alliegro, Executive Vice President of IV's Invention Development Fund, said this about the latest news:
"Intellectual Ventures and Raisio have developed new and very strong inventions for the Benemilk project. These inventions will enhance the protections available to the Benemilk brand, and will further strengthen the underlying technology with additional innovations. Intellectual Ventures believes its collaboration with Raisio will ultimately help advance agricultural practices and address the global problem of ensuring food sufficiency."