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Noble Foundation gets new name, new structure to expand partnership opportunities


By David Schwartz
Published: May 16th, 2017

More than seven decades since its founding, the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation – the world’s largest independent agricultural research organization – is making a name change and structural changes to enhance its ability to form research partnerships and commercialize its research.

The Ardmore, OK-based organization is separating its research and education operations from its philanthropic activities. The former will now be conducted under a new name, the Noble Research Institute, with its own tax designation. The grants and scholarship programs will be placed into a private foundation and will maintain the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation name.

“The Noble Foundation is going to take a big, bold step forward,” said Bill Buckner, president and CEO of the Noble Foundation. “And this definitely connects the tremendous accomplishments of the Noble Foundation’s past to a future that is bright and filled with new opportunities.”

The split will not affect the organization’s location, no employees will be eliminated, and the grant and scholarship programs will remain unchanged. So why make the changes? Steven Rhines, director of public affairs, explained that current organization is deemed a 501(c)(3) private nonprofit foundation by the IRS, which suits its philanthropic efforts but not its research, commercialization and partnership initiatives. The creation of the Noble Research Institute will allow it to apply for a relatively new tax category as an agricultural research organizations, which is a form of 501(c)(3) public charity that focus on agricultural research. The Noble Research Institute has already applied for the new designation, according to Rhines.

After approval from the IRS, the organization will undergo a 60-month transition process in the conversion from a private foundation to an agricultural research organization. The separation opens the door for the Noble Research Institute to explore collaborations, expand funding sources, expand licensing, and engage more fully in technology commercialization.

The foundation side will also benefit from a more single-minded mission. “As a single entity, the organization served many audiences with diverse interests,” Buckner said. “By separating our activities into two organizations, each new organization can now build its respective name around its specific operations and build new relationships that were otherwise unavailable.”

Source: The Daily Ardmoreite

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