Agri-food systems are large and complex with many actors – from the type of food we eat to the way it’s produced, transported, and delivered.

Consumers increasingly want to know more about the food they eat and the products they buy, but in order to provide a more transparent, safe, and sustainable food supply, we must improve connectivity and strengthen our food and agriculture systems.

DIAL is rethinking the agri-food sector by creating connections across fragmented ecosystems to deliver digital innovation and new businesses that meet specific industry needs, and in turn, provides consumers with access to healthy, affordable, sustainable, and transparent food.

We develop entrepreneurs and ideas to create and fund high-value startup companies for the agri-food industry.


DIAL’s plan for successful startups begins with industry – a different approach from the norm in academia.

The road to drive innovation from research to the marketplace can be long and arduous. Businesses need discoveries translated quickly, and those innovations that can rapidly make it to market and meet industry needs will likely be successful.

Purdue is perfectly positioned to bring together industry, technology, faculty expertise, and Purdue assets to make this happen. DIAL will create innovative companies based on emerging trends and opportunities, using a rigorous and well-defined process to achieve success.


Even though automation, artificial intelligence, and IoT are the underlying enablers of digital innovation, the human talent needed to leverage these tools is even more important.

Our annual cohort of fellows enters with backgrounds across all industries and technologies, and through the DIAL process, generates novel ideas, engages agricultural industry partners, funds and launches their startup, and serves as founders in growing their business.

As a DIAL Fellow, you will build robust connections with industry experts and will be connected to investors, foundation program offices, policy specialists, and other entrepreneurs to grow and inform your business. You will engage with industry to identify critical needs and challenges, then work closely with Purdue faculty, staff, and students to discover potential ways to address those challenges.

As a venture studio, DIAL provides go-to-market assistance to help you discover the critical needs of the industry, the jobs that are needed, and the potential ideas that could become a successful business.

We provide research assistance to define your market and better understand customer needs and interests. DIAL will also help develop your narrative, improve your sales pipeline, and pitch with you. We’ll even make sure you have the right people, fill in on your advisory and fiduciary boards, and help you gain access to sources of capital.


Executive Director
Gray provides strategic direction for market research and new venture development for DIAL’s venture studio model. Allan works with the annual cohort of DIAL Fellows to identify industry challenges where digital innovations are needed and assists DIAL Fellows in creating new startup companies to bring these digital innovations to the industry. The primary focus of this work is to help the food and agriculture industries enhance digital innovation in ways that help improve transparency, traceability, efficiency, resiliency, and food safety across the food system.
Tim Dixon
Senior Director of Innovation Talent and New Ventures
Dixon recruits and coaches DIAL Fellows through the entrepreneurial process from concept to growth funding. He engages investors in funding DIAL and its startup companies. Before his role with DIAL, Dixon was the CEO of InterOptic, a tech startup in Chicago. Before that Tim held numerous roles in marketing, sales, customer service, and engineering for startups and Fortune 500 companies.
Ben Van Nostran
Senior Director of Business Development and New Ventures
Van Nostran works to create partnerships across the food value chain with industry and venture capital clientele to co-create attractive investment opportunities. Van Nostran leads DIAL's market research program on digital innovation in the agri-food system to position DIAL as the leading expert in the business of digitizing the agri-food system.
Lourival Monaco
Postdoctoral Research Associate
Monaco is a postdoctoral research associate in agribusiness management and marketing at Purdue University. His research efforts are focused on competitive intelligence, framework construction and strategic planning in agribusiness. Before joining Purdue, Monaco worked as an agribusiness consultant for several consulting firms. In 2017, he worked with Purdue's Center for Food and Agricultural Business as a visiting scholar. Lourival is an agronomist and received his MBA in agribusiness, a master's degree in plant production and a Ph.D. in business administration from the University of São Paulo, Brazil.