BALTIMORE – What do chicken feathers and soybean oil have in common? Both are bio-based resources for environmentally friendly products such as biodegradable flower pots and petroleum-free printing inks. These and other "green" technologies recently were displayed during a showcase co-hosted by the Agricultural Research Service and the Maryland Technology Development Corp.
ARS is a U.S. Department of Agriculture intramural scientific research agency that employs approximately 2,100 scientists at more than 100 research locations in the United States and abroad. TEDCO, headquartered in Columbia, Maryland, is an independent entity established by the Maryland General Assembly in 1998 to facilitate the creation of businesses throughout the state and foster their growth.
"ARS and TEDCO are working together to furnish small-business operators with access to the latest technologies and scientific expertise necessary to develop new and improved consumer products," says Assistant Administrator Rick Brenner, with the ARS Office of Technology Transfer in Beltsville, Maryland.
"Today's showcase demonstrates ARS' and TEDCO's commitment to furthering and supporting technologies that better our environment and quality of life," says Renée Winsky, president and executive director of TEDCO.
As part of the showcase, ARS and TEDCO commemorated the one-year anniversary of a Partnership Intermediary Agreement that established a formal mechanism by which ARS can leverage TEDCO's existing relationship with Maryland businesses to better ascertain their technology needs and notify them of opportunities to partner with ARS on development and commercialization of technologies. As part of the commemoration, TEDCO presented ceremonial funding checks to two Maryland companies – Chesapeake Microproducts and CrispTek, LLC – to further their use of ARS-developed technologies.
TEDCO has hosted four technology showcases for ARS' Henry A. Wallace Beltsville Agricultural Research Center since 2000. The most recent event was the first that TEDCO has hosted for ARS agency-wide. The program's agenda included interactive demonstrations and breakout sessions on biofuels, bio-based products and sustainable agriculture.
Under the PIA, TEDCO provided funding to Chesapeake Microproducts of Salisbury to produce biodegradable materials for horticultural pots made from chicken feathers, using technology developed by ARS scientists. The PIA also enabled CrispTek, a new small business in Columbia, Maryland, to commercialize a gluten-free, rice-flour-based batter developed by ARS that reduces the oil uptake of fried foods. CrispTek was established to commercialize this technology, for which ARS granted them a license in April.
According to Brenner, ARS plans to establish similar PIAs with other U.S. economic development organizations to further the use and development of ARS research and technology throughout the nation.