Agricultural fungicides, which combat a number of plant blights and diseases, are estimated to prevent the loss of up to 95% of annual crop yields worldwide. At the same time, many current fungicides are petrochemicals that come with major financial and environmental costs from toxicity and chemical buildup in the soil. Organic fungicides offer a safer solution, but are currently much less effective and more expensive than chemical fungicides.
This E-Team, calling itself Gen2 Agro, is developing a next-generation organic fungicide that is over 20% more effective than current organic options, making it comparable in efficacy to chemical alternatives. Gen2 Agro’s product is composed of naturally occurring, non-genetically modified bacteria that has been found to directly attack fungi, secreting byproducts that suppress fungal growth. The team's fungicide will work for some of the world’s most valued crops, including soybeans, wheat, and potatoes.
Ohio State University is one of the nation's leading research and development institutions, but it lags behind other state institutions in terms of technology commercialization. The number of new ventures created at the university is relatively low, and there is little or no formal venture capital invested in the region. OSU's Center for Entrepreneurship works to stimulate economic growth and development in Ohio and the greater Midwest through technology commercialization, new company formation, and improving the competitive performance of entrepreneurial firms, and is also responsible for designing and administering the university's entrepreneurship education program. The Center is currently working to create an interdisciplinary, graduate-level education and outreach program in technology entrepreneurship and commercialization (TEC). The TEC works to access new and emerging technologies through strategic partnerships with leading research centers/programs at Ohio State, top research institutions throughout the region, and select businesses dependent upon the industry base and technology platforms in the region; create market opportunities and development strategies through an interdisciplinary, graduate-level curriculum that provides advanced training in sourcing unique technologies and developing commercialization strategies for the greatest market potential; and drive technologies to market through a dynamic, web-enabled business support network that identifies key players and provides access to the critical resources needed in real time.
The graduate-level curriculum is comprised of four required courses, including Foundations of Technology Venturing, the Technology Entrepreneurship and Commercialization Practicum 1 (Technology Commercializtion) and 2 (Technology Entrepreneurship), and one advanced elective. NCIIA funds support the development of the lab- or experience-based tech commercialization practicum, a two-course sequence that provides graduate students of all disciplines the opportunity to conduct professional, cross-disciplinary assessments of the commercial applications and market opportunities of live, cutting-edge technologies.
This E-Team is evaluating the commercial potential of a soy-based plasticizer developed by Battelle, an Ohio-based non-profit research organization. Plasticizers are substances added to plastics or other materials to make or keep them soft and pliable. Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plasticizers cause significant health problems and are banned for use in medical devices and toys, but current alternatives to PVC cannot deliver low cost, high performance, and non-toxicity. The team believes its soy-based plasticizer has the ability to do just that, offering an inexpensive, effective, non-toxic, renewable plasticizer.
The technology is already developed and patented, and the team has put in 500 hours identifying market opportunities for it. The team is utilizing NCIIA funds to take the product to market: they will interview industry and market professionals, test product formulations, develop business and operational plans, and determine the best path to market.