Monday, April 30, 2007

A successful model for the development and commercialization of biobased products for industrial uses from soybeans

Alvin L. Young, Omni Tech International, Ltd, 1810 Tranquility Road, Cheyenne, WY 82009 and William W. Kurz, Omni Tech Soybean Project, Omni Tech International, Ltd, 2715 Ashman Street, Midland, MI 48640.

In the 1930s Henry Ford used soybeans to make a variety of biobased products. Much of that research was terminated in 1941 and relatively little research on soy oil and proten as industrial products was conducted until the United Soybean Board (USB) was formed in 1991.  To fund new research on soybeans, and hence increase value and demand for their crops, soybean farmers in the US organized their activities under a USDA Check-Off Program.  Through funding from the USB, Omni Tech International, Ltd.,was selected to help identify emerging technology, evaluate it for funding consideration, track funded activities on behalf of the Board, encourage technology transfer and provide understanding and access to the distribution chain leading to commercial adoption. The Technical Advisory Panel (TAP) system was created as a structured network linking the innovators from academia, government, and industry to those with market access. Using the TAP system, key technical/trade shows and USB seed money, has resulted in the development and commercialization of new plastics, lubricants, coatings, printing inks, adhesives, and other emerging industrial opportunities.  To keep new potential products in the pipeline, each year the USB invites proposals from the academic and industrial communities.  These are evaluated and the New Uses Committee of the USB selects new projects for funding and subsequent tracking. The succss of this model is reflected in the availability of a growing portfolio of new industrial products made from soybeans.

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