TerraSafe Materials and Penn State Announce Licensing Agreement to Commercialize Breakthrough Material Technologies

TerraSafe has established a lab in State College to commercialize its sustainable packaging solutions

NEW YORK, Feb. 27, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- TerraSafe Materials, Inc. (“TerraSafe” or the “Company”), the first portfolio company launched by Big Idea Ventures’ Generation Food Rural Partners I, LP (“GFRP”) Fund, has signed new agreements with The Penn State Research Foundation ("PSRF") to further the Company’s mission to replace single-use plastics.

TerraSafe is launching its first rural Research & Development facility at the Penn State Innovation Park, where the Company plans to run analytic testing for new material technologies in development. TerraSafe is leveraging intellectual property created by researchers at the Pennsylvania State University (“PSU”) in the biomaterials space.

“Penn State’s exceptional library of technology especially in the areas of agriculture, food, and materials is impressive, along with their world-class professors, is allowing our team to find potential commercial solutions for our corporate and limited partners’ business needs,” stated Frank Klemens, Managing Director of the fund. “The support that this ecosystem can bring to startups like TerraSafe is why we located our first R&D center in State College. We look forward to a long, fruitful relationship with Penn State’s team of professional innovators for many more years to come.”

The underlying technologies were invented by a research team led by Dr. Jeffrey Catchmark, Ph.D., Professor of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, and Bioethics. Dr. Catchmark and his team have worked for years developing technology that can replace conventionally used materials with those that are significantly more environmentally-friendly. “Our research focuses on increasing sustainability and positive change for society through translational research that can have real environmental and economic impact through collaborations with industry,” said Dr. Catchmark. The technologies focus on new composites based on very low cost naturally derived materials like polysaccharides such as cellulose and starch. These new composites are in the form of coatings, films and foams that exhibit improved stability and barrier properties that allow them to be used in applications like sustainable, compostable food packaging and handling products; adhesives for packaging, wood composites and construction materials; foams for insulated food packaging and construction insulation; and improved paper and paperboard for any application.

Scott Bolin, CEO of TerraSafe, stated, “I’ve been very impressed with the innovative and entrepreneurial culture at Penn State, and we are excited to have licensed some ground-breaking technology which will reduce our daily exposure to microplastics, making the world a safer and healthier place. We’re committed to being a part of the PSU ecosystem and are looking forward to our lab opening at the Innovation Park in the coming weeks.”

Innovation leaders at Penn State are equally excited for the collaboration with TerraSafe to commence. “The decision to site TerraSafe’s R&D facility in Penn State’s Innovation Park is validation that smaller markets with deep talent and expansive research portfolios are compelling ecosystems to accelerate new businesses. Our hope is that this is just the first of many ag, materials, and food-tech businesses to launch in central Pennsylvania with the support of Big Ideas Ventures,” said Andrew Read, Interim Senior Vice President for Research at Penn State, and President for the Penn State Research Foundation.

“Since we began working with BIV and their leadership in 2020, there was clear alignment between the team’s vision for GFRP and Penn State’s exceptional depth in agriculture, materials, and sustainability research,” stated James Delattre, Associate Vice President for Research and Director of the Office of Entrepreneurship & Commercialization.

The GFRP Fund evaluates intellectual property focused on innovations in the agriculture, food, and protein sectors. The GFRP Fund invests to create new companies formed around research with the greatest chance for broad commercialization. As part of the Fund’s participation in the US Department of Agriculture's Rural Business Development Program, these new companies will be headquartered in rural communities, creating living wage jobs to drive economic growth and development. The collaboration between TerraSafe and Penn State marks a major milestone of its core mission to build and grow companies throughout the rural United States.

About TerraSafe Materials
TerraSafe Materials, Inc. is a material science company developing new materials, coatings, and applications for truly sustainable packaging. TSM specializes in the development of biopolymer compounds to displace traditional petroleum-based packaging. As the first company formed within BIV’s Generation Food Rural Partners (GFRP) Fund, TerraSafe Materials licenses intellectual property from multiple universities collaborating to develop novel materials to reduce the amount of plastic and fluorochemical (such as PFAS) waste entering the environment. For more information, visit www.terrasafematerials.com.

About Generation Food Rural Partners
Generation Food Rural Partners (“GFRP” or the “Fund”) is a RBIC-licensed investment fund designed to drive economic growth and development in rural communities in the US. The Fund invests in the areas of agriculture, food, and protein technologies to form new companies based on intellectual property, creating living wage jobs at its portfolio companies. GFRP is backed by members of the Farm Credit System, including Farm Credit Services of America, CoBank, Compeer Financial and Mid-America Farm Credit. GFRP is a part of Big Idea Ventures (“BIV”), the world’s most active investor in FoodTech, investing in the best food technology and AgriTech companies globally. BIV has teams in New York, Paris and Singapore and has invested in more than 100 companies across 30 countries and manages the Global Food Innovation family of funds and GFRP. For more information, visit www.bigideaventures.com/generation-food-rural-partners

About Penn State
Penn State is a multi-campus, land-grant, public research University that educates students from around the world, and supports individuals and communities through integrated programs of teaching, research and service. Penn State is an R1 university, a classification given by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Higher Education to the very best research universities in America, reaching a record $1.239 billion in research expenditures during fiscal year 2022-23. The University’s discovery-oriented, collaborative and interdisciplinary research and scholarship promote human and economic development, global understanding, and advancement in professional practice through the expansion of knowledge and its applications in the natural and applied sciences, social and behavioral sciences, engineering, technology, arts and humanities, and myriad professions. The University’s instructional mission includes undergraduate, graduate, professional, continuing and extension education, offered through both resident instruction and distance learning. Penn State’s educational programs are enriched by the talent, knowledge, diversity, creativity and teaching and research acumen of its faculty, students and staff. As Pennsylvania’s sole land-grant university, Penn State provides unparalleled access to education and public service to support the citizens of the commonwealth and beyond. The University engages in collaborative activities with private sector, educational and governmental partners worldwide to generate, integrate, apply and disseminate knowledge that is valuable to society. 

The Penn State Research Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that was established as a direct support organization of The Pennsylvania State University to provide oversight of the management and licensing of Penn State’s intellectual property rights. PSRF catalyzes the commercial translation of research to benefit the Penn State community and improve our world.

Media Contacts

TerraSafe Materials, Inc. | Scott Bolin | scott@terrasafematerials.com

Big Idea Ventures | Olivia Chavassieu | olivia.chavassieu@bigideaventures.com |
+33 7 49 63 40 80

Penn State | Tech Transfer Office | Anthony Czap | aczap@psu.edu