The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today signed an agreement with TechComm, an affiliate of the Center for Innovation in Arlington, Texas, to foster agricultural research opportunities between businesses and universities in the Southwestern United States and to help commercialize USDA-developed technologies.
Officials with USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and the Center for Innovation signed the Partnership Intermediary Agreement today in Arlington, Texas. The Center also has a similar agreement with the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), allowing the Center to help coordinate projects between ARS, DoD and NIH. ARS is USDA's principal intramural scientific research agency.
"The signing of this agreement will help create opportunities for businesses and universities in this region of the country to collaborate with ARS scientists conducting important agricultural research across the United States," said Richard J. Brenner, ARS assistant administrator for technology transfer. "Collaboration with organizations like TechComm helps establish a strong and unique network to assist ARS in identifying potential private sector partners, and to provide those companies with resources to help them commercialize ARS innovations that benefit consumers."
"Signing this agreement today puts TechComm in a select economic development group working together with ARS to give our organizations ready access to the U.S.'s most distinguished agricultural scientists and their innovations," said Wes Jurey, chairman and managing partner of the Center for Innovation and chief executive officer of TechComm. "This opens up new possibilities of commercializing ARS patents that could translate into new business endeavors and perhaps job opportunities."
TechComm is the newest member of the ARS Agricultural Technology Innovation Partnership (ATIP) program. The ATIP program, begun in late 2007, is a formal partnership with well-established economic development entities to facilitate commercialization of USDA research patents, thus creating innovation-based economic development. The group is comprised of local, state and regional economic development organizations and is designed to create and enhance opportunities for partnerships between businesses and ARS.
The ATIP program is managed by the ARS Office of Technology Transfer, which helps move ARS research discoveries from the laboratory to the marketplace. The overarching goal of the ATIP program is to increase adoption of these research discoveries by private sector firms through licensing of ARS technologies and establishment of cooperative research and development agreements.
Through these agreements, ARS research is being translated directly into products to benefit consumers. For example, a similar agreement with the Maryland Technology Development Corporation enabled CrispTek, a Columbia, Md.-based company, to begin commercializing a gluten-free, rice-flour-based batter developed by ARS that reduces the oil uptake of fried foods. CrispTek was developed to commercialize this technology, which they licensed from ARS in the spring of 2008.
ARS is a leader in the federal government in transferring and marketing its new technologies developed from in-house research, and has formed numerous partnership cooperative agreements. Through these activities, more than 120 of 315 licenses for USDA technologies are currently producing products and services for broad public benefit. More information about opportunities for licensing ARS technologies is available on the ARS-OTT website at: http://www.ars.usda.gov/Business/Business.htm.