US basic research investments are only loosely-related to economic opportunity. As an example, consider the estimated ‘farmgate’ value of more than 60 of the most important plants and animals in US agriculture (based on the average values for the past 3 years, from the USDA-National Agricultural Statistics Service) versus the number of DNA sequences for these organisms in Genbank, the leading public DNA sequence database. While there is a general correlation between crop value and sequence information, there are many exceptions that are of great importance to specific regions in the USA. Some crops with very high value have received little attention at the genomic level. There are sometimes good reasons that low-value crops have been remarkably well-studied, as they offer important basic information or are valuable botanical models. However, it is clear that new investments are needed to identify the genetic strengths and weaknesses of major crops. The Genes for Georgia approach of integrating public research and education capacity with a value-capture plan seeks to link the public-sector research engine, to the wheels of private enterprise, fostering public benefit by empowering a new level of innovation and shortening the product development cycle.