Representatives from research and development companies, governmental agencies, universities, investment firms, and more came together in Washington, D.C. for the annual Tech Connect World 2017 on May 14-17th. The conference featured exciting sessions on emerging materials and innovative products, and the concurrent expo gave attendees a chance to network with companies and organizations in the global innovation community.
The remarkable potential and new applications of cellulose nanomaterials and biobased materials were highlighted for use in flexible electronics, as replacements for formaldehyde in laminate flooring, as transparent wood for energy efficient homes, and more.
One session featured a Cellulose Innovation and Commercialization Discussion, with panelists from FiberLean Technologies, American Process Inc., CelluForce, and the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry. The open discussion covered a range of topics, including opportunities for competitive differentiation in the CN market, how cultural differences drive innovation, the importance of partnerships, and how safety and regulatory approvals affect commercialization.
Research on the environmental health and safety of nanomaterials was also a focus, with presentations on strategies to ensure safety in support of the development and commercialization of nanomaterials, the relationship between in vitro and in vivo results from inflammation studies, studies looking at broader life cycle exposures, challenges in grouping and read-across for risk assessment, and improved dosing methodology.
A fireside chat on Safety and Innovation as Partners for Success in Advanced Manufacturing organized by Chuck Geraci of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Sally Tinkle of IDA/Science and Technology Policy Institute, and Sara Brenner of SUNY Poly brought together industry, government, and academic representatives to discuss how safety can help drive innovation and improve value propositions. Strategies included using safety and sustainability to drive the way products are made, the use of computer algorithms to scan the news to predict upcoming safety issues, using social values to drive safety practices, and creating collaborations and consortiums to develop best safety practices for groups with similar interests (e.g. nanomaterials).
Vireo's Jo Anne Shatkin and Kimberly Ong were also among the presenters:
Dr. Shatkin presented work done in collaboration with Dr. Johan Foster from Virginia Tech and Dr. Thomas Peters from Iowa State University. In her presentation "Development of a Method for Measuring Cellulose Nanomaterials in Aerosols for Workplace Evaluation & Standard Development", she described a new practical method under development to measure airborne cellulose nanomaterial (CN) exposure in the workplace, with the goal of advancing safety data development of CNs to improve commercial adoption. Dr. Shatkin also identified gaps in safety data important for commercialization, and discussed the importance of developing resources and guidance to support safe production.
Dr. Ong discussed the importance of being proactive to ensure safety of CNs to support commercialization and presented a map of the global CN research activities in her presentation "Global Activities of Cellulose Nanomaterial Environmental Health & Safety". She highlighted that a great deal of collaborative CN safety research is ongoing across the globe, especially in the areas of occupational safety, toxicity testing strategies, safety testing method development, compatibility of biomedical applications, and CNs for food use.