Tech Transfer eNews Blog

Purdue start-up receives over $1M to make a healthier variety of corn

By Jesse Schwartz
Published: September 11th, 2019

A Purdue University start-up has secured more than $1 million in funding to commercialize a more nutritious variety of corn.

NutraMaize is based on the research of co-founder and Purdue professor Torbert Rocheford, who 20 years ago began working on methods to increase the amount of health-boosting carotenoids in corn. His Orange Corn technology is licensed through the Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization.

NutraMaize’s corn is already available to consumers through its retail brand “Professor Torbert’s Orange Corn,” which offers premium-milled products like grits. Expansion plans include working with food processors to produce widely consumed staples like breakfast cereals and snack foods, as well as working with the livestock industry to improve the nutritional quality of animal feed and resulting animal products like eggs.

Rocheford began began developing carotenoid-enriched corn over 20 years ago to help address vitamin A deficiencies in Sub-Saharan Africa. It was not until much later that he realized it could benefit Americans as well.

“Most Americans are at an increased risk of losing their vision as they age because they don’t get enough carotenoids,” says Rocheford. “There is a very real nutritional need here in the U.S. that Orange Corn can help address.”

The Orange Corn technology has received nearly $1 million in funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and roughly $200,000 combined from the USDA and the state of Indiana.

“These funds are helping us develop improved varieties of Orange Corn that will be able to deliver better nutrition on a population-wide scale,” says Evan Rocheford, who co-founded NutraMaize with his father. “Corn is the largest staple crop in the U.S. and an essential building block of our food system. That means if we make corn better, we fundamentally improve the American diet.”

Source: Purdue Research Foundation News

Posted under: Tech Transfer e-News

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