TechConnect speaks with John Homoelle, Director of New Technology & Regulatory Affairs, Michelman
What are technology/solution areas that you have a primary interest in?Our focus has always been to provide solutions to our customers and markets that provide environmentally friendly alternatives to incumbent technology and products currently offered. Typically this has been accomplished by offering water based dispersions of materials that traditionally were provided only in solvent based matrices or manufactured by means that use energetically unfavorable processes. In today’s markets we seek alternative materials that are renewably based, are sustainable, and ideally leave a smaller carbon footprint than what the incumbent solution offers. We also look for ways to extend food supply and shelf life by developing novel solutions that permits packaging to support this all important initiative. Other areas of interest to us include means to enhance digital printing quality, improving strength of composite structures through sizing enhancement, self-healing coatings, materials that provide water/moisture barrier, scuff and abrasion resistance, slip control, adhesion, and anti-corrosive coatings and additives to name a few.
What level of commercial maturity do you typically look for in technology partnerships?As a relatively new entry in this space, we typically look for technologies that are beyond theoretical and have been developed sufficiently so as to give us a reason to believe that it can work. This can be in partnership with research firms, academic institutions that have a strong tie to industry and other companies on a global basis. Beyond the concept, we look to organizations that have a good cultural fit to us in how they address challenges.
Please describe your company’s Innovation model and how this model helps to find new innovations.We have two technology divisions—New Technology, whose purpose it to discover new transformative/disruptive innovations to support our three business groups and Commercial Technology that operates within the purview of each Business Group. New Technology constantly interfaces with the marketing and technology functions of each Business Group and determines their market/customer needs for which no internal solutions seem to exist . New Technology is then tasked with performing the scouting work in these areas, evaluating them and bringing them back to the Business Groups if it feels that the idea/concept has merit. Scouting is done through conversations with universities, research firms, conferences, other companies and through organizations that post these challenges on a public global basis. We also review our innovation model to see if there are better models being developed that could be implemented. Typically these are done through trade associations such as the Industrial Research Institute and Codev.
Why work with TechConnect and the National Innovation Summit as a technology prospector? Who are you looking to meet with?In interviewing several of our key customers over their innovation model, they were quite complimentary of TechConnect and recommended that we engage it. TechConnect and the National Innovation Summit seems to bring many fresh and new innovators to one location and can act as a treasure trove of ideas to investigate relative to the needs that our customers and markets have expressed.
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