Idea: After the hot, dry summer of 2007 took a toll on Tom Smude’s corn and soybean crops, he learned that hardy sunflower plants could thrive in such adverse conditions, and he began to explore the idea of producing sunflower oil.

AURI’s role: Nutritional analysis, product development, troubleshooting and innovation networking.

Outcomes: Today, Smude’s is on shelves in major grocery chains, has a loyal customer base, is expanding its offerings to include flavor-infused sunflower oils and employs four part-time staff.