The Illinois-Missouri Biotechnology Alliance (IMBA) is the outgrowth of an economic development initiative of the St. Louis, MO, group known as Civic Progress. Civic Progress held roundtable discussions in 1994-95 around six technologies that futurists were touting as “economic engines for the future.” The group of innovative thinkers addressing “Biotechnology” at those roundtable discussions was chaired by University of Missouri Dean Roger Mitchell.
The report of the Biotechnology Committee became a special interest of the Monsanto CEO, Richard Mahoney. Mahoney promoted the report to a Missouri congressperson, Dick Gephardt, and Congressman Richard Durbin (now Senator Durbin) of southern Illinois. Durbin and Gephardt joined with Missouri’s Senator Christopher “Kit” Bond to support a USDA special grant that focused on corn and soybean biotechnology in the FY96 federal budget. The first grant was for $1.2 million and funding has continued at the $1.1-1.2 million level, annually, since 1997.
The special grant is awarded to the University of Illinois and jointly administered by the Deans of Agriculture from Southern Illinois University, the University of Illinois and the University of Missouri.