Companies can tap the Ohio BioProducts Innovation Center (OBIC) resources to advance their bioproducts research to the commercialization stage. Companies will find a well-honed management program in place to smooth the process. OBIC's Portfolio Management Process is designed to engage private sector companies with academic and industry resources, and then help manage an identified cluster of research projects to speed the commercialization process.
One example of an ongoing and very productive technology commercialization effort includes The Andersons, Inc. of Maumee, OH, OBIC, and Ohio State University (OSU) researchers. Behind the effort is a $5M grant was awarded by Ohio Third Frontier (TFP) Commission in July 2008 to pursue many aspects of the Andersons revolutionary granule technology. TFP funding from the Ohio Department of Development (ODOD) is geared to rapid commercialization and economic development that helps establish Ohio has a leader in bioproducts commercialization.
ODOD funding supports emerging technologies that foster positive solutions to economic, heath, and environmental concerns of the agricultural industry. The Andersons project includes an all-Ohio collaborative team comprised of the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC), Syngenta Crop Protection, Inc., PSB Company, and National Lime and Stone Company. OBIC provides the program coordination between the university and Andersons management.
The Andersons' Advanced Granule Technology includes soil dispersing granules product named Contec®DG and NutriDG™ that dissolves into the soil when moistened; foliar granules that stick to leaf surfaces to deliver value-added chemicals; and foaming granules being developed to create a "blanket" over target areas while delivering desired chemicals. Each of these will provide their own unique set of complex challenges relative to active ingredients, markets, segments, and uses taking the product to market.
At OBIC, Kenneth Anderson (no relation to The Andersons family/owners) is the day-to-day program director for at least 30 projects simultaneously being undertaken by granules collaborators. Each project is on a different time frame, including some that are staggered according to the growing season. "We set up four guiding principles to make the OBIC management system work well," Anderson explains, "They are: Pick great people, leverage technology, communicate regularly, and keep it simple."
"We are using Google Docs, a sharable online workspace, which I set up so that all collaborators can share documents and being transparent among all collaborators," says Anderson. "We also use the software, Basecamp, which we have integrated with Google Docs to simplify access to information. All the different efforts within The Andersons’ projects have a presence on Basecamp, which helps keep the information flowing and keeps everything up-to-date."
Shannon Hollis, formerly a research scientist and R&D manager at The Scotts Company, joined OBIC in early 2009 to serve as project director for other similar multi-faceted commercialization efforts being managed by OBIC. Part of her focus is supply chain issues – to ensure that all stages of the commercialization process are ready for activation when it’s time to pull the trigger and advance to the next phase of a program. In her role, Hollis works closely with Ohio companies and workforce development initiatives, to remove barriers to commercialization efforts.
For R&D/commercialization efforts managed by OBIC, full collaborative team meetings typically occur on a scheduled basis. Everyone joins in through GoToMeeting, often with a whole project team joining the web-based meeting tool from one or more office or labs. For The Andersons’ project, OBIC staff has a newsletter for collaborators and interested parties, to keep the information flowing, ensure regular and complete communication, and enhance the review process, which keep things moving smoothly and minimize inefficiencies or unsatisfactory paths of inquiry.
"The management approach that OBIC custom-built for the Andersons is one of several management approaches that can be customized to work for any complex project," says Anderson, "and we have definitely put it to the test with the granules effort."
The Andersons, Inc. is a diversified company with interests in the grain, ethanol and plant nutrient sectors of U.S. agriculture, as well as in railcar leasing and repair, turf products production, and general merchandise retailing. Founded in Maumee, Ohio, in 1947, the company now has operations in 10 U.S. states and Puerto Rico, plus rail equipment leasing interests in Canada and Mexico.
Syngenta Crop Protection, Inc., is a world-leading agribusiness company committed to sustainable agriculture through innovative research and technology. A global leader in crop protection, Syngenta is investing in Advanced Granules for global consumption.
PSB Company, a division of White Castle System, Inc., Columbus, Ohio, a leading manufacturer of granule applicators, established in 1934, is headquartered in Columbus, Ohio.
National Lime and Stone Company, Findlay, Ohio, is a leading limestone supplier and granulator of advanced soil-dispersing granules.
The Ohio BioProduct Innovation Center is a Wright Center funded by Ohio Department of Development. OBIC focuses on enhancing Ohio’s leadership position in bioproduct commercialization. A novel market pull model integrates academia in support of comprehensive supply chain collaborations across agriculture, specialty chemical and polymer industry sectors. For more information, bioproducts.osu.edu.