Collaboration as a tool to improve and accelerate safety testing of novel materials

K.J. Ong, J.A. Shatkin, J.D. Ede
Vireo Advisors, LLC,

Keywords: collaboration, safety, generally recognized as safe (GRAS)


The development of novel materials support innovation new products and applications. However, the unique properties of these novel materials raise questions about safety and use. Each company interested in commercialization must determine how to test the safety of their materials. This is often more challenging than companies realize, as the ‘typical’ standard safety tests used to test chemicals do not always work for novel materials. Each company must invest resources in developing and performing a range of safety tests. But to do all this testing, it can take an enormous amount of resources to come up with a safety strategy, hire the right people, do the tests, write up reports, confer with experts, and get authorization for an innovative product. Often, each producer individually runs through this process. By bringing a group of industrial partners together, a group can reduce the overall amount of money and number of tests needed, and at the same time also increase the pool of assets and brainpower. This presentation will describe a real-life example, describing a model that brought competitors to work together to develop safety data and submit a Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) Notice as one group for use of fibrillated cellulose as a food additive. Key elements to success included leadership, trust, and diversity. Collaborators included industry, academia, commercial labs, and government partners and leverage a unique public-private partnership for funding.