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James Rogers ConvEne IGERT Fellow, Founder and CEO of aPEEL Technology, Inc.


As a fellow of UCSB’s convene IGERT program, James was strongly encouraged to participate in UCSB’s Technology Management Program. Through this program he gained knowledge about new venture creation, entrepreneurial finance, management, and business strategy. IGERT support also freed him to take additional classes in the economics department at UCSB, for which he was awarded his masters in economics in 2012. Through a series of IGERT guest lectures, he was exposed to a large number of entrepreneurs to whom he has been able to turn to for advice. Early in 2012, he founded a company called aPEEL Technology, Inc. aPEEL uses natural plant extracts to create a formulation that is applied to the surface of fresh produce in order to extend shelf life without the need for refrigeration. James’ IGERT sponsored work with the TMP program culminated in his participation in UCSB’s New Venture Competition, for which he received the Grand Prize. Winning the competition provided the capital necessary to incorporate the business and purchase lab equipment. While experimenting for aPEEL, James discovered his formulations might have a significant opportunity to improve the lives of smallholder farmers in the developing world by helping crops resist biotic stressors such as bacteria and fungi. After this realization, he completed a grant application to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and was incredibly fortunate to receive a grant for $100,000 worth of Phase I funding. James is currently building out his team and putting together a seed round of funding for aPEEL.

Address Goals

The Technology Management Program provides courses designed to assist students in new product development processes, tools, techniques and organizational structures. James’ knowledge from courses taken in the TMP program and entrepreneurial efforts will bring cutting edge research to small farmers to assist with food preservation and crop resistance, with significant impact on food supply in the developing world. The venture aPEEL Technology uses natural plant extracts that create an ultrathin preservation barrier that can be applied to fruits and vegetables.