Joe Fox, Director, Emerging & External Technologies for Ashland Performance Materials speaks with TechConnect News about their technology/solution interests.
Please tell us about yourself and your role within Ashland.I am a member of the Global Business Development group for Ashland Composites, a world-leading supplier of vinyl ester and unsaturated polyester resins used to fabricate fiber-reinforced composites that are used in a wide variety of markets, including transportation, building & construction, infrastructure, corrosion and marine. My job is to identify new opportunities where our resins can be used to replace traditional materials of construction like steel, concrete and wood. I also play a technology scouting role.
What are technology/solution areas that you have a primary interest in?
Historically, our resins have been used almost exclusively with glass fibers. Today, we have a great deal of interest in cost-effective technology for producing carbon fiber composites. We are also interested in low VOC, low odor thermosetting vinyl ester and unsaturated polyester resin systems. We also have interest in technology for the recycling and re-use of thermoset composites.
What level of commercial maturity do you typically look for in technology partnerships?
Ideally, we are searching for technologies that have already been commercialized or are close to commercialization. However, we are very open to assessing technologies that are still at pilot scale or even lab scale.
Tell us why innovation is important to your company and how this model supports your efforts to find new innovations. Could you describe 1-2 policies or programs your company has in place to support external innovation?Innovation these days often requires a team effort. Ashland Composites resides in the middle of the value chain shown below, and we are always looking for upstream and downstream partners who can help us develop innovative new products.
In our open innovation model, we have modified the traditional “Want, Find, Get, Manage” approach to external technology to “Want, Find, Assess, Get, Manage” where there is a very important internal assessment step in the middle. We have mechanisms in place for each step in this process.
Why work with TechConnect and the National Innovation Summit as a technology prospector?Who are you looking to meet with? A big part of my job is to search for opportunities associated with smaller, entrepreneurial companies who are looking at new ways to use our resins. TechConnect is a perfect forum for this matchmaking.
Tell us why you participate at TechConnect World? Has the TechConnect innovation matchmaking helped you find new technologies?TechConnect has definitely helped us identify new opportunities. In my corporate spotlight presentation on May 14th, I will be highlighting a success story that originated with our involvement in TechConnect in 2015.
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