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AURI Staff Column Seeing Around Corners

AURI has a long, successful history of working with Minnesota entrepreneurs, businesses, agri-processors and others to help develop innovative ag-based products and processes. We help move ideas to implementation — be it a new product on the market or a process that increases manufacturing efficiency. The assistance we provide is proprietary. Trade secrets, formulations and private information are not shared with anyone.

Equally important are AURI’s industry-wide initiatives. These collaborative projects examine emerging trends, address industry needs and move public domain information into the hands of people who can use it.

Collaborative origins

Each year, AURI staff meet with dozens of Minnesota agricultural organizations, commodity groups, economic developers, industry leaders and others to determine their priority issues for the coming year. When those issues fit AURI’s mission, our project development and scientific staff create initiative projects to help address those issues. All initiatives must meet two criteria: their results are available to the public, and they are tied to industry needs.

These initiatives answer broad challenges plaguing an industry. They investigate new technologies and help identify emerging trends and opportunities. For example, this issue of Ag Innovation News features a few of our initiatives such as compost bedding packs for dairy barns (page 3) and a biomass heat feasibility guide (page 8).

These initiatives “see around corners” — to proactively identify innovative opportunities for Minnesota agriculture. They identify real life examples of what can be successful, show that there is science behind the findings and provide a tool for farmers, entrepreneurs or businesses to use and consider applying in their own circumstances.

A rigorous process

AURI project and technical staff recently completed the process of identifying and selecting initiatives we will be working on in 2012. We pared a long list down to about two dozen projects — ranging from food industry concerns to new technologies for ag-based biogas production to alternative uses for grains.

There is no shortage of ideas or needs. However, AURI has limited staff and resources, prompting us to work diligently to weigh the needs and prioritize our resources. We would love to be able to do them all, but we focus on what makes the most sense and will most effectively meet industry needs.