Northeast center partners, expertise, and strategic vision.

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Land grant institutions lead the way

The roots of our nation's land grant institutions run broad and deep, reaching into every county in the nation. This well established system of dedicated people and frontier research has proven the ideal ground for sprouting the foundations of the new bio-based industries in the rural economy. The Sun Grant Initiative expands the role of Land Grant Institutions to address issues of national energy security, climate solutions, and rural economic development.

At the gate of the next green revolution

The Northeast Land Grant Institutions and other colleges, universities, and public and private organizations bring strong research and development capabilities to meet the challenges of the Sun Grant Initiative. The Sun Grant Initiative opens the gateway to bring the best in science, engineering, and agriculture together at the revolution occurring in biotechnology. The Sun Grant Initiative programs hold the potential to bring a second green revolution to the US and Northeast Region rural communities, one that grows rural economies, creates jobs, and addresses key sustainability challenges including climate change.

Background of the Sun Grant Initiative

The Sun Grant Research Initiative Act of 2003 advances the research, development and implementation of bioenergy and bioproducts technologies in the United States. It was introduced to the US Congress by Senator T. Daschle (SD) and Senator W. Frist (TN) and was first authorized under Title IX, Section 9011 of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002. The US Department of Agriculture has provided annual planning grant funds from 2002 to the present to the 5 Regional Sun Grant Centers of Excellence.  Additional funds to support the Sun Grant Initiative have been provided by the US Department of Energy and the US Department of Transportation, along with matching funds from colleges, universities, government agencies and the private sector. In the Northeast Region, these funds have been utilized to support research, education and outreach priorities for the region. 


The Sun Grant Initiative taps the intellectual resources of our nation for addressing issues of national energy security, economic diversification in rural areas, environmental sustainability of agricultural production and bioenergy and bioproducts research competitiveness.

The Sun Grant Initiative's objectives are to:

  1. Enhance national energy security through the development, distribution, and implementation of biobased energy and bioproduct technologies;
  2. Promote diversification in, and the environmental sustainability of agricultural production in the United States through biobased energy and product technologies;
  3. Promote economic diversification in rural areas of the United States through biobased energy and product technologies; and
  4. Enhance the efficiency of bioenergy and biomass research and development programs through improved coordination and collaboration between the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Energy, and the land-grand colleges and universities.

Implementation of a carbon-negative bioeconomy

A critical focus of the Sun Grant Initiative is rural economic diversification and development through strong commitment to the implementation of new technologies into the marketplace to expand the bioeconomy and address sustainability challenges. Bio-based technologies that concentrate and sequester carbon dioxide recently captured by photosynthesis have a particularly important role in reducing and reversing climate change. The Northeast Region is home to over 400 companies with a specific interest in biotechnology or biobased products. The creation of a carbon-negative bioeconomy will lead to the creation of new jobs in the Northeast Region, as new infrastructures and new biobased industrial complexes are constructed.

Northeast Sun Grant Regional Research Priorities for 2023 - 2025

  1. Net-zero or carbon-negative biomass feedstock, bioenergy, and bioproduct systems and technologies. 
  2. Regionally relevant biomass feedstocks for bioenergy, bioproducts, and biofuels including perennial crops, winter crops, and agricultural, forestry, industrial and urban residues. 
  3. Research to support development and deployment of regional carbon-negative bioenergy and/or bioproduct manufacturing enterprises, including technology advances, resource assessments, social, economic, marketing, and/or policy research. 
Partnership and Eligible Lead Institutions
2023 Northeast Sun Grant Vision.pdf

PDF document, 500.7 KB

Contact Information

Tom L. Richard, Ph.D.
  • Professor Emeritus of Agricultural and Biological Engineering

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