Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research and Kirchner Food Fellowship Renew Collaboration

 Pioneering Impact Investment program trains and supports the next generation of capital allocators

 BIRMINGHAM and WASHINGTON (December 11, 2019) – Today the Kirchner Impact Foundation announced the second year of its successful collaboration with the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) and North Carolina State University to support the 2019-2020 cohort of the Kirchner Food Fellowship, a program supporting young agriculture financiers. FFAR and North Carolina State University are providing matching funds and technical expertise to prepare the fellows to make critical agriculture business investment decisions.

Innovative business investment is critical to solving the mounting food and agriculture challenges. While the amount of investment capital focusing on social and environmental impact is increasing rapidly, global access to this capital is not. One solution is to successfully train future financiers to invest in early-stage innovations that can transform global food production.

The Kirchner Food Fellowship program was established to fill this critical gap and support agriculture-related businesses. The Kirchner Food Fellowship trains university students each year to evaluate agriculture business investments and gives them discretion over investment decisions for companies solving critical food and agriculture challenges. The focus of this year’s fellowship program is on improving water and soil health.

“We are pleased to continue our collaboration with FFAR given their important role in the agriculture and food sector,” commented Blair Kirchner, Director of the program. “As we continue to scale the fellowship internationally it is important to build strong relationships with organizations that share our mission and vision.

The Fellows work directly with the Kirchner leadership team, and its network of thought leaders, to engage in a series of face-to-face and online educational experiences that expose them to real-world early-stage investment scenarios.

“In addition to funding research, FFAR invests in the next generation of food and agriculture scientists. We are excited by the collaboration that results from partnering the Kirchner Fellows with the FFAR Fellows in Agricultural Sciences, another FFAR scientific workforce development program,” said FFAR’s Executive Director Sally Rockey. “It is highly rewarding to see the collaboration and networking between these two FFAR-funded programs, which ultimately strengthens the future food and agriculture’s scientific workforce.”

The Kirchner, FFAR and NCSU collaboration encourages innovation and agricultural productivity by partnering Kirchner Fellows with FFAR Fellows in Agricultural Sciences, a fellowship supporting the research and professional development of future food and agriculture scientists. Cross-collaboration between the Kirchner Food Fellows – FFAR cohort and the FFAR Fellows can more effectively identify and evaluate early-stage innovations in agriculture technology that benefit farmers and are profitable for investors.

The 2019-2020 Kirchner Food Fellowship – FFAR Cohort Fellows are:

  • Laura Zaim: Zaim is pursuing her MBA at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania with a focus in finance. As Venture Partner at New Crop Capital, she helps bring alternative proteins to market by investing in and mentoring early stage vegan food companies.
  • Brennan Costello: Costello is a graduate student at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, pursuing a Master’s in Business Administration. Costello is a member of the Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program, empowering students and entrepreneurs in the Midwest.
  • Ephrem Tesfaye Woldegiorgis: Woldegiorgis is studying at American University’s School of International Service (SIS) pursuing a Master’s in International Development with an emphasis on agriculture, rural development and rural economic institutions in Sub Saharan Africa.

In addition to FFAR, the Kirchner Food Fellowship – FFAR cohort is made possible through the support of Kirchner Group, a boutique firm that provides advisory, operational and M&A support to small and medium sized businesses as well as asset management services with a particular focus on the agriculture and food sector.


Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research

The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR), a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization originally established by bipartisan Congressional support in the 2014 Farm Bill, builds unique partnerships to support innovative and actionable science addressing today’s food and agriculture challenges. FFAR leverages public and private resources to increase the scientific and technological research, innovation, and partnerships critical to enhancing sustainable production of nutritious food for a growing global population. The FFAR Board of Directors is chaired by Mississippi State University President Mark Keenum, Ph.D., and includes ex officio representation from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and National Science Foundation.

Connect: @FoundationFAR | @RockTalking

Kirchner Food Fellowship

The Kirchner Food Fellowship is a pioneer in the lean investment movement, harnessing the power of highly-committed millennial talent to find, fund and assist promising socially-responsible, for-profit agricultural businesses. Through the use of a “real-world, real-time, real money” model the program has proven that it is possible for newly formed investment teams to become effective venture capital allocators in a matter of months. The combination of compressed learning time frames and low operating costs makes it possible to more cost effectively deploy smart and impactful capital in parts of the world were angel capital is needed most, leading some to describe the program as “Peace Corps meets VC”. For more on the program please visit and our recent AgFunder article.

The Kirchner Food Fellowship is an initiative of The Kirchner Impact Foundation (501 (c) (3)) one of the “returning arms” of Kirchner Group, that focuses on harnessing the positive power of enterprise to make a difference in addressing some of the most important issues of today.

Steve Dauphin | Director | +1 205.602.9845 |

Kirchner Group

Kirchner Group was founded in 1985 as a boutique advisory firm and today operates various subsidiaries, providing advisory services (M&A, assessments, diligence) and operational support (interim management, workouts, turnarounds) as well as asset management (dedicated, portfolio optimization) – all leveraging a proprietary approach that dovetails domain and process expertise.

Throughout the decades Kirchner Group has been internationally recognized for its unique business model centered around creating value while promoting values: “earning while returning”. The firm has also established a reputation for building and rebuilding important business and social paradigms based on its deep entrepreneurial orientation.

Kirchner Group’s clients and partners include early stage to mid-market companies, venture capital and private equity firms as well as family offices and some of the world’s largest insurance companies, commercial banks and institutional investors.

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Blair Kirchner | Managing Director & Co-Head of Impact Activities | +1 902.817.2405 |