Collaborative research hubs

Case Study


Agate new ways of working

Impact and Partners

The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) supports joint public-private ventures that facilitate the development of crops with novel traits adapted to changing economic and environmental futures. Each of these projects involves diverse, multinational teams, and multiple agribusiness companies, including explicit competitors working together to advance common pre-commercialization goals.

Process and Problem Solved

FFAR needed a secure convening platform where dozens of agri-business partners would feel comfortable sharing their pre-commercial data with their competitors and selected public-sector partners.

GEMS Services Used

Agora for public-private, agri-food consortia

The GEMS Platform supports 7 FFAR-convened research consortia covering multiple crops, multiple production systems (field and indor ag), and multiple phenotypic traits. These consortia include:

  • Crops of the Future, Corn Drought. Crop: Field grown corn. Trait: Drought tolerance. Consortium members: University of Wisconsin, Inari, KWS, Syngenta.
  • Crops of the Future, Seed Quality. Crop: Field grown tomatoes. Traits: Heat tolerance and seed quality. Consortium members: University of California Davis, University of Florida.
  • Crops of the Future, Protein Enhancement. Crop: Field grown peas. Traits: Protein quality and content. Consortium members: University of Minnesota, Keygene, Benson Hill, and Syngenta.
  • Precision Indoor Plants Lettuce. Crop: Indoor lettuce. Traits: High yield, high-quality leaves, minimize post-harvest discoloration. Consortium members: Benson Hill, AeroFarms, Fluence, BASF, GreenVenus.
  • Precision Indoor Plants. Crop: Indoor Tomatoes, Traits: Flavorful Tomatoes in Controlled Environments. Consortium members: University of Florida, AeroFarms, BASF, Fluence by OSRAM, GreenVenus, Priva.
  • Crops of the Future, Streamlining Gene Editing. Crop: Common beans. traits: Ultimately any, sped up by eliminating tissue culture, a bottleneck. Consortium members: University of California Davis, Limagrain Europe. 
  • Crops of the Future, Editing Via CRISPR-Combo. Crop: potato, citrus. Traits: Resistance to insect born diseases. Consortium members: University of Maryland, Texas A&M AgrLife, and the USDA. 

The platform has become an anchor for these collaborations. In addition, Precision Indoor Plants chose to engage GEMS Solutions for scientific support on metadata management, and general data management and curation activities. FFAR’s Crops of the Future has required each of the programs it has funded to utilize the platform to ensure that data practices can be standardized. This has streamlined operations given the very disparate native data practices of the public and private consortium members.


  • A highly productive collaborative environment created across diverse public and private partners.
  • Increasingly diverse agricultural problems shared within GEMS environment.
  • Standardization of data practices across very different groups working together.