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Tuesday, 07 February 2012 09:28

In Development: Battle Creek enters world spotlight

Written by  Karl Dehn
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Karl Dehn

I want to tell you about a great success story coming out of Battle Creek’s Downtown Transformation Initiative: the Global Food Protection Institute.

The Downtown Transformation Initiative, implemented just three years ago, is an innovation growth strategy being lead by Battle Creek Unlimited and the city of Battle Creek. The Initiative seeks to innovate and foster new economic development opportunities from Battle Creek’s and Michigan’s inherent strengths in food science and food protection.

The first innovation spurred by this Initiative was the Global Food Protection Institute (GFPI). GFPI is a nonprofit organization that was established in Battle Creek in 2009 with initial seed funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Since its inception, GFPI has had an overall mission to improve public health, both nationally and globally, by improving the safety of our food supply.

GFPI is pursuing this goal through a family of global initiatives:

  • “Imagined Food Futures” (IFF), which is a series of conferences and symposia that are facilitating the adoption of policies and practices to improve the safety of our food supply;
  • the “International Food Protection Training Institute” (IFPTI), which is building the training infrastructure for the integrated food safety system;
  • and the “Emerging Technology Accelerator” (ETA), which is serving as a catalyst in the development of novel food protection technology platforms.

Food protection makes sense in Michigan. Michigan is the second most agriculturally diverse state in the U.S. The state has a rich background in agriculture and boasts more than 1,400 small and large food processors.

In its two short years of existence, GFPI’s success has substantially raised the profile of Southwest Michigan and Battle Creek. Through GFPI’s efforts, Battle Creek is well on its way toward the goal of becoming an international hub for food protection. This goal is being achieved through all three initiatives of the organization.

First, IFF has recently announced its inaugural conference, “Ensuring Safe Food in Dynamic Food Systems,” to be held in Battle Creek on May 1-2, 2012. This first symposium will bring some of the world’s most forward-thinking and experienced leaders to Battle Creek to examine food systems through the lens of food safety.

The major success of IFPTI has also significantly raised the profile of our region. As the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) lead training partner, IFPTI is assisting FDA as it implements the Food Safety Modernization Act. Since the first course was delivered in 2009, IFPTI has trained over 2,000 food protection professionals from all over the U.S. and the world, most of them in Battle Creek.

Four months ago, the FDA announced a five-year, $6.5 million cooperative agreement with IFPTI to expand its curriculum development and training efforts. In November 2011, GFPI President and CEO Dr. Julia Bradsher presented in Beijing at the China International Food Safety and Quality Conference. Recently, IFPTI VP of Curriculum Dr. Craig Kaml and Dr. Bradsher presented to the World Bank in Ankara, Turkey on IFPTI’s training approach.

Finally, consistent with Michigan’s entrepreneurial history and the state’s current support of small business, the Emerging Technology Accelerator (ETA) will provide entrepreneurial support to fast-track the development of emerging technologies that safeguard public health.

GFPI’s VP of External Affairs, Joan Bowman, presented at the Annual Collaboration for Entrepreneurship (ACE12) meeting to raise awareness of food protection technology opportunities for the investment community. ACE12 brings together entrepreneurs, service providers, investors, students, government agents and other members of the business community to network, learn and connect.

ETA has also announced, through a partnership with Great Lakes Entrepreneur Quest (GLEQ), a business plan competition for food safety technologies.

The Global Food Protection Institute has taken a leadership role in protecting our food supply. As our food supply becomes more interconnected, safety has never been more important, and Battle Creek is becoming the recognized leader in this sector — worldwide.

 

Read 2062 times Last modified on Sunday, 12 August 2012 21:35

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