The USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) created a public-private partnership model called the Agricultural Research Partnerships (ARP) Network to expand the impact and reach of ARS’s technology transfer efforts.
The ARP Network is “a network of networks” with the goal of enhancing the likelihood that ARS research outcomes are adopted by the private sector for commercialization. Although replete with scientific expertise, the ARS research program does not have the resources or the authority to provide ARS commercial partners with the business mentoring, marketing, manufacturing, and fiscal resources needed for the success of their businesses. Consequently, the Network was established to provide these complementary assets.
The 35-plus ARP Network members include ARS and stakeholders interested in regional economic development, such as state and regional economic development groups; agriculture accelerators; Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) centers; capital programs for business attraction and acceleration; and organizations that support agribusinesses, farmers, agritourism, and/or food processors.
The ARP Network assists ARS in creating new partnerships and supporting existing partnerships to advance ARS research and development (R&D) and subsequent utilization, including commercialization. ARS provides research capacities, innovations and patented technologies, and the other ARP Network members provide complementary business assistance programs and services. Combining resources from ARS and members, the ARP Network brings a range of research and business expertise to assist large and small agri-businesses and entrepreneurs located in the ARP Network member’s region or state. The goal is to increase the adoption of ARS research outcomes by helping companies develop new products and services, as well as expand existing product lines.
The ARP Network is “a network of networks” with the goal of enhancing the likelihood that ARS research outcomes are adopted by the private sector for commercialization.
ARS and the ARP Network hold numerous workshops to “showcase” ARS technologies and research capacity to local entrepreneurs, business leaders, angel and venture investors, and economic development professionals in order to encourage joint ventures that could facilitate the commercialization of ARS technologies. For example, in January 2016 ARS hosted a webinar showcase titled “How to Partner With ARS to Move Technologies Out of the Lab and Into the Marketplace.” Network members advertised the webinar to their regional and state stakeholders, and over 90 people attended the event. ARS recently signed one CRADA and is negotiating another that involve the use of the pilot plant.
Another example of an ARP Network regional state and local economic development initiative is building regional awareness of the USDA-Small BusiSBIR and ARS partnership program. This program encourages SBIR applicants to enter into a CRADA with a USDA laboratory, or to license a USDA technology and be considered for a USDA SBIR Grant. The value of this program is demonstrated by its high success rate (over 80 percent) of USDA 2016 SBIR Phase I awards granted to businesses that also had established a CRADA with an ARS laboratory.