MAUMEE — The future of industrial and food-based use of soybeans was the focus of a presentation by Airable Research Lab at the CIFT Agribusiness Forum June online program.

Airable founder and chief laboratory officer Barry McGraw presented some of the key research being conducted at the lab, and discussed Airable’s relationship with the Ohio Soybean Council and Ohio Wesleyan University.

He said Airable Research Lab develops new products that utilize soy-based feedstocks to solve industrial and consumer challenges. Founded in November 2019, Airable is a business line of the Ohio Soybean Council.

Through soy-based product research and development, the lab seeks to build market demand for soybeans, benefiting Ohio’s soybean farmers, while reducing industry’s environmental footprint.

McGraw said that the chief advantage of working with Airable is that the lab offers lower R&D costs as compared to university research labs. He said that the problem with working with universities is three-fold. For one, university objectives are to fund post-doctoral fellows, attract and educate students and publish research papers. Also, universities usually lack strong connections to industry. Finally, universities usually demand ownership of all intellectual property.

The soybean council can offer corporate R&D partners funding only, so an OSC-sponsored lab could attract partners which are more interested in ideas, custom solutions and proof-of-principle data.

McGraw said advantages for working with Airable include increasing and leveraging R&D work for the same amount of funds, as well as more opportunities to develop a company’s own intellectual properties. The value of this, he explained, allows for accelerated soybean utilization and increased licensing and royalty income.

McGraw joined the Ohio Soybean Council in 2013 and is responsible for leading OSC’s soy bio-based research and commercialization program. Under his leadership, OSC won seven R&D 100 Awards in seven years and reached a milestone in royalty payments from licensing soy bio-based technologies.

In 2019, McGraw recognized an opportunity for the soybean council to capitalize on past successes by establishing its own research laboratory. With the council’s blessing, McGraw founded Airable Research Lab, a business line of OSC located in Delaware, Ohio. He leads a team of chemists and material scientists in conceptualizing, researching and developing soy-based materials.

Before joining OSC, McGraw spent 15 years at Battelle, where he worked in program management, engineering and marketing. He played a key role on Battelle’s bio-based materials team, working in development and commercialization of technologies, including four that won R&D 100 Awards. He also worked on Battelle’s national security team in technology areas such as critical infrastructure, environmental challenges, information systems and defense technology.

The Agribusiness Forum is hosted by CIFT, an Ohio MLP affiliate. Typically held during the breakfast hour, the forum is an educational networking opportunity to provide information on current issues, trends and programs available to the agricultural community and those who support it.

The CIFT Agribusiness Forum is expected to go back to live presentations in July. For more information, contact CIFT at info@ciftinnovation.org.

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