Collaboration to improve and accelerate safe commercialization of novel materials and products

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

Keywords: safety, collaboration, nanomaterials, novel foods, innovation


The development of novel materials and products support innovation in many fields. However, the unique properties of these novel materials and the new approaches to manufacturing raise questions about safety. Each company interested in commercialization must determine how to test the safety of their materials and ultimate products. This is often more challenging than companies realize, as the ‘typical’ standard safety tests used to test substances do not always work for novel materials and products. Each company must invest resources in assessing their product and manufacturing process, as well as 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 two real-life examples of collaborative efforts. The first describes 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. The second example will describe how cell-cultured meat and seafood producers were brought together and collaborated through a series of workshops to assess potential hazards of cell cultured meat development and manufacturing and to identify research priorities going forward. Key elements to the success of these collaborative efforts included leadership, trust, and diversity. Collaborators included industry, academia, not-for-profit research organizations, commercial labs, and government partners and leverage unique models for funding such as public-private partnerships.