More than 80 people from across Minnesota and several other Midwestern states gathered in Mankato in an effort to grow an industry that holds great potential for agricultural, manufacturers and economic growth in rural Minnesota.
Biobased products, including plastics, polymers, lubricants and other biologically-derived products are attracting the attention of manufacturers, retailers and consumers. A recently released report, sponsored by AURI and the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council, highlighted the opportunities in biobased products. AURI facilitated a day-long event bringing participants from industry, economic development, agriculture, academia and government to take a closer look at the opportunities and challenges facing this fledgling industry.
“I, among others, believe that the production and use of biobased products and materials is a natural fit for Midwest agriculture, particularly for Minnesota where we are at the end of the export pipeline,” says Jim Palmer, executive director for the Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council. “This report is the first of its kind, and it confirms what many have suspected—that biobased products hold great potential to create new market opportunities for Midwestern agriculture and our manufacturers.”
One purpose for the gathering was to roll out the report to those with an interest in the industry. A second was to identify ways to move the industry forward.
“It’s most important that we get input from people involved in the industry to identify action items that we can use to make things happen,” says Randy Hilliard, AURI project development director. “This report won’t mean much if we aren’t able to do something with the information.”
“It is really important that we connect the dots within the biobased industry,” adds Jen Wagner-Lahr, senior director for innovation at AURI. “Research has shown that having strong networks is the most important factor for success for entrepreneurs, so having leaders from across the industry in the same room creates a lot of synergy.”
A copy of the report is available at www.auri.org.