Bill Gates new project: Farming Economic woes took a back seat at the World Economic Forum Bill Gates leads corporate responsibility drive with $306M grants By Barry Neild DAVOS, Switzerland (CNN) -- Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates announced a new direction Friday as he pledged $306 million in grants to develop farming in poor countries, leading the charge for corporate responsibility at a major meeting of business chiefs. The announcement by Gates, who is to step down from the computer giant later this year, drew attention from the financial woes that have dominated the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Gates received a standing ovation for his announcement at the suggestion of U2 frontman Bono. The move, the first foray into agriculture by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, will help boost efforts by the annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland to shake off its image as a billionaire's talking shop that does little to solve the problems it discusses. "If we are serious about ending extreme hunger and poverty around the world, we must be serious about transforming agriculture for small farmers, most of whom are women," Gates said. See Bill Gates talk about spreading the wealth. "The challenge here is to design a system including profit and recognition to do more for the poor," he said, calling for a new form of "creative capitalism."