Watching my son play baseball is one of my favorite summer evening pastimes. Each player has a certain skill set. To win, coaches have to position players in the right place to maximize their skills for the collective good.

The cool thing is it doesn’t matter who they are, or where they are from, as long as their abilities are best utilized.

The banker’s son plays outfield and the school janitor’s son plays third base. The son of the obstetrician, who likely delivered most of the boys, plays shortstop. Despite their various backgrounds and skills, they all learn to play together, strategize, celebrate the good and pull together in tough times. While watching a game, I thought about how similar this is to rural innovations.

AURI’s mission is to help develop uses for Minnesota’s agricultural products that create economic benefit for producers, ag processors and rural communities. AURI has a unique set of skills and resources that help businesses, processors and entrepreneurs move agricultural innovations from idea to reality.

Like a baseball squad, AURI has resources to cover the bases, but we enlist outside help to complete the team. Whether helping develop an ag-based product — like we do hundreds of times a year — or trying to grow an industry with renewable energy and biobased product support, AURI tries to get the right players into the game. This means bringing economic developers, university researchers, industry experts and other collaborators into the team to maximize chances for success. By tapping into the strengths of available resources, we put everyone in the best position to win.