“He helped us grow TechAccel from a conceptual new business model into an enterprise with more than three dozen valuable assets – all novel innovations in agrifoodtech and animal health.”
He continued: “Terry guided the company through the development of two joint ventures and two new companies, Covenant Animal Health Partners
and RNAissance Ag
, as well as an acquisition. Under his leadership, we’ve grown in multiple Midwest locations, with more than 30 relationships with major research institutions and universities.”
The privately held company does not release details on all of its assets or their valuations. The company’s assets focus on sustainable innovations to address food production and hunger, climate issues, and animal health and welfare.
Graves was elected unanimously at the board’s August meeting. He will serve a three-year term. Other members of the board will continue in their roles. The other members, including Helmstetter, are: Paul DeBruce, former chairman and CEO, DeBruce Grain; Jeffrey Dobbs, former global chairman KPMG LLP International Industrial; Cliff Illig, co-founder and former president and vice chairman Cerner Corp.; Richard B. Myers, president, Kansas State University; Roshann Parris, founder and CEO Parris Communications Inc.; John Sherman, co-founder Inergy LP and Royals CEO and chairman.
In Graves’ new role, he will oversee the board’s committees that manage finance and investments, governance, audit and compensation and other management tasks.
“We have already completed some brilliant new science work,” Graves said. “I simply can’t wait to help this firm hit the open market where we will accomplish new and even greater things.”
Under Dunn’s leadership, in its first seven years, TechAccel identified several highlights:
• Early investment in leading AgTech innovator Benson Hill
: TechAccel joined the company’s 2015 series A round
with rights as a major holder; TechAccel also invested in the company’s series B. Benson Hill recently announced going public via a $2 billion SPAC.
• Strategic partnership with Donald Danforth Plant Science Center: TechAccel developed programs to fund commercialization
of innovations and later, co-located its science team at the center.
• Launch of subsidiary Covenant Animal Health Partners
: TechAccel and Reliance Animal Health Partners formed Covenant Animal Health, which now has its own portfolio of assets in development for commercial release.
• Launch of subsididary RNAissance Ag
: Originally funded as a proof-of-concept with the Danforth Center, the company was established in 2019. In 2020, the company acquired the assets of RNAgri LLC and added manufacturing capabilities.
• Signaling the company’s evolution and growth, TechAccel recently added senior leadership positions: Tina Youngblood, Ph.D
., as chief finance and administrative officer; Mike Rohlfsen
, chief commercial officer; and Joe Langle
, vice president of program management.
The new chairman brings executive leadership experience to the role. As CEO of Burns & McDonnell, the company’s revenue grew from $420 million to more than $2 billion. Under his leadership, the company won numerous quality and customer satisfaction awards while tripling the employee count.
Graves also brings an entrepreneurial approach: in 2014 he was named the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award in the engineering category in the Central Midwest.
Graves is widely known in the Kansas City area for his civic service as a past chairman of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce and for service on the boards of the Civic Council of Greater Kansas City, University of Missouri-Kansas City and many more business and non-profit organizations. Most recently he authored the book Create Amazing
, which focuses on the tremendous value of company employee ownership.