LSU AgCenter research helps companies get a start

Linda F. Benedict, Morgan, Johnny W.

In 2012, the LSU AgCenter Office of Intellectual Property celebrates its 25th anniversary. During that time it has become the leader in the commercialization of intellectual property within higher education in Louisiana.

“Our job is to connect our researchers with companies interested in the technologies that are being developed here at the AgCenter,” said Wade Baumgartner, director of the Office of Intellectual Property.

Baumgartner’s office handles the licensing of a number of different agreements that range from seed development to anticancer pharmaceuticals.

Since 2000, 15 new companies have started based on licensing technology from the AgCenter. Baumgartner explains the royalties from these companies and from other licensing agreements are distributed among the LSU System, the inventors and the AgCenter, where funds are funneled back into more research.

Royalties are distributed as follows: 40 percent to inventors, 15 percent to the inventor’s department or research station, 10 percent to the LSU System Office, 25 percent to the vice chancellor for research and 10 percent to the chancellor’s office. Royalties from these companies and from other licensing agreements have generated more than $60 million since 1999. The most lucrative of these licensing agreements has been with the international chemical company BASF for a herbicideresistant line of rice varieties known as Clearfield, which has generated more than $50 million.

One of the most recent products to go public is EX5, which is a sport’s drink produced by H&B Beverages LLC of Covington, La. The drink has three times as many electrolytes as its leading competition, such as Gatorade and Powerade. The “5” refers to the drink’s five benefits – quicker recovery, less sodium, lower calories, more electrolytes and less sugar, said the inventor, Brian Brothers.

Some other products that have gained attention in recent years are provided through Delta Land Services, which uses a mat system to help in marsh remediation and coastal restoration by catching sediment and building up the marsh areas that are continually being lost.

Other technologies have led to new crop varieties. In 2002, the development of Clearfield rice presented farmers with a variety that could be grown to withstand the use of herbicides that would kill the rice-like weed known as “red rice.” This would not have happened without a collaborative partnership with BASF. Clearfield rice now accounts for about 60 percent of the rice grown in the southeastern United States.

Startup companies and licensees

  • H&B Beverages, LLC (2012). This sports drink company is based in Covington, La., and focuses on low-sugar, low-calorie products high in electrolytes and other valuable nutrients. Their drink line, EX5, uses technology developed by John Finley, Joan King, Darryl Holliday, Adriana Soto and Alfredo Prudente at the LSU AgCenter Department of Food Science to achieve this unique set of benefits with a great taste. EX5 is best known for having three times as many electrolytes as leading competing products, such as Gatorade and Powerade.
  • American Utility Metals, LLC (AUM), (2012). A specialty stainless steels company that is based in Louisiana and operates globally has licensed the Louisiana Low Turbulence (LLT) Clarifier, a sugarcane clarifier technology. The clarifier reduces retention time and increases efficiency by more quickly separating solid particles from raw sugarcane juice and allowing more clear juice to pass through the system. 
  • Mt. Pelia Innovative Solutions, LLC, (2011). A Martin, Tenn., company has licensed the autonomous bird predation reduction device (also known as the “carebot” from the LSU AgCenter. The solar-powered, self-propelled robot can move around watery areas, such as aquaculture facilities, to scare away birds by nonlethal means.
  • Hole Pluggers (2009). A New Iberia-based startup was licensed by the AgCenter to produce Tiger Bullets, which are a new type of plastic-and-wood composite that prevents lost circulation in oil drilling wells.
  •  D&S Electrostatic Samples (2008). This Baton Rouge-based company has developed air-sampling technology that can screen for disease-causing spores.
  • Energenetics (2006). This company produces resistant-starch products with the same cooking quality as regular food starch. The resistant starches have many health benefits such as preventing colon cancer and lowering the risk of heart disease. The technology will also allow for the introduction of recipes containing rice into low-carbohydrate diet programs, increasing the demand for rice and rice products, which will have a beneficial impact on Louisiana’ economy. 
  •  Esperance (2006). This biotechnology company, housed in the Louisiana Emerging Technology Center, produces cancer-treating drugs.
  • NanoSolutions (2006). This company produces fabric dyes from miniscule amounts of precious metals. This dyeing technique creates lush colors that are permanent and not susceptible to bleaching or fading. The company is in Baton Rouge.
  • OX-B (2003). This company produces cold sterilants used in the dental industry to sterilize dental equipment. The company is in Baton Rouge.
  • TermiTech (2003). This Baton Rouge-based company licenses pop-up technology developed as an inexpensive, efficient way to monitor termites. The pop-up devices are available at a major national store.
  • TransGenRx (2003). This biotechnology company produces specialized proteins, including vaccines and growth hormones, and is housed in the Louisiana Emerging Technology Center.
  • Reprostat (2001). This company in Baton Rouge produced veterinary drugs to sterilize dogs and cats. 
  • University Products (2000). This company, based in Baton Rouge, produces vaccines for the cattle industry.

Johnny Morgan is a communications specialist with LSU AgCenter Communications.

(This article was published in the fall 2012 issue of Louisiana Agriculture magazine.)

1/9/2013 9:05:42 PM
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