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USDA Under Secretary Harris Sherman Promotes Public/Private Partnerships, Meets with Industry Leaders

USDA Under Secretary Harris Sherman (front left) meets with FPL researcher John Hunt (front right) as representatives from FPL partner Noble Environmental Technologies look on (in background,  Jim Jensen and Caleb Walker).

USDA Under Secretary Harris Sherman (front left) meets with FPL researcher John Hunt (front right) as representatives from FPL partner Noble Environmental Technologies look on (in background, Jim Jensen and Caleb Walker).

A recent visit to the US Forest Service Forest Products Laboratory by USDA Under Secretary Harris Sherman was an eventful one. Sherman took the opportunity to visit with industry leaders who have collaborated with federal scientists to bring innovative new products to the market. Sherman was at the laboratory on July 25 for a grand opening of the new Nanocellulose Pilot Plant along with scores of industry leaders, scientists and academic researchers.

“The Forest Service alone cannot advance nanotechnology. We can’t alone advance bioenergy or green building,” said Sherman during his keynote address. “We need to build our public/private partnerships.”

Sherman explained how he is very open to talking with industry leaders about expanding resources and commitment at the federal level to develop the kinds of partnerships on display through work at the Forest Products Laboratory.

Through such partnerships, Sherman said, “we are all stepping to the plate, rolling up our sleeves, and putting our shoulder to the wheel.”

An example of one such successful partnership is with John Hunt, research general engineer at Forest Products Laboratory, and his close work with Nobel Environmental Technologies out of San Diego. Sherman met with Hunt and Nobel Environmental Technologies representatives while at the laboratory.

In April, 2012, Nobel Environmental Technologies announced its exclusive license to commercialize technology based on two patents that were filed jointly with the Forest Products Laboratory. They previously partnered under a cooperative agreement that resulted in the development of three-dimensional engineered molded fiber, named ECOR Advanced Environmental Composites.

“The collaboration between the Forest Products Laboratory and Nobel Environmental Technologies is a perfect example of how government and industry can work together to meet society’s needs,” Hunt said. “By combining our unique capabilities, we were able to turn research results into tangible products—products that bring improved options to consumers and promote the sustainable use of resources, all while creating jobs and contributing to the economy.”

ECOR products provide solutions to designers and architects searching for materials which are versatile and can provide imaginative design opportunities. Extraordinary characteristics, including environmental sustainability, distinctive shaping, compound curves, and significant strength-to-weight ratios make ECOR unique. The product can be used in countless applications ranging from furniture, interior architecture and decor, signage and displays, automotive, aviation, marine, rail, industrial and manufacturing, military/logistics and consumer products.

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