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Making progress by identifying needs

–by Teresa Spaeth, AURI Executive Director

At AURI we’re all about making progress in agriculture by identifying opportunities to use Minnesota’s commodities in new products and processes, which will strengthen agriculture, create jobs and grow the economy.

Sometimes progress emanates from new ideas and other times it emanates from a need. For example, there’s a need for expanded renewable energy and a need to find nutritious, lower cost feed for livestock. These are needs that Minnesota producers, researchers and processors are positioned to meet through innovation. In order to spur innovation that is based not on a whim but on fact, AURI is helping agricultural organizations and businesses identify needs with an unbiased, research-based methodology.

So, what is a need? When working through a needs assessment process, the definition of a need is “the gap between what is and what should be.” It’s important to note that this definition of a need doesn’t mean being needy, which can have a negative connotation. Instead, this definition of a need establishes a call to action. We’re not assessing deficits, but identifying the gap between what is today and what could be tomorrow. It is in this gap that opportunities are identified and
innovation happens.

At the same time that AURI is working to help identify needs that we may be able to help meet, we’re also doing asset assessments so that we can pair together the needs that are identified with the organizations that have the capacities to help meet that need by creating a new product or process. The AURI-Battelle Minnesota Ag Research Capacity Assessment that you read about on page 9 is an identification of Minnesota’s research assets to clearly define the strengths and capabilities of Minnesota’s various research organizations.

When we work together across agriculture to identify the highest impact needs, and match those needs with the businesses, entrepreneurs and research organizations best positioned to meet those needs, we will end up with innovation and growth in our economy. By meeting needs we are creating a stronger future.