A meeting of the minds
Dan River Plants is the first commercial spinoff for the Institute for Sustainable and Renewable Resources (ISRR). ISRR was created as a result of collaboration between the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech and the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR), which is based in Danville, VA. The Department of Horticulture at Virginia Tech worked with IALR to envision the possibility of a commercial spinoff company. This company would culture plant tissue for high-value ornamentals and bioenergy plants.
The advantage of micropropagation
Researchers at ISRR pioneered a technique known as “micropropagation”, which is Dan River Plants' advantage. It enables the cloning of biorenewable crops at a very rapid and reliable rate by orders of magnitude every month. With micropropagation, one shoot becomes ten shoots by the second month, a hundred by the third, and more than a million shoots by the end of the first year. This technology led to federal investment funds from both the USDA and the EDA. That money was used for studies that proved the feasibility of creating a business involving biorenewable feedstocks and high value horticulture in Southern Virginia.
Proof that the technology worked
Meanwhile, the ISRR lab grew several thousand miscanthus plants. Miscanthus is a biorenewable crop that can be used for conversion into fuels, plastics and other materials. After twelve months in the field, the bioenergy crops were showing robust growth. This success generated excitement among growers in the region, but also convinced the Danville Regional Foundation to award $1.2 Million in start-up funds. Dan River Plants was dedicated in January 2011.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions.