Canadian Forest Service Publications
Research partnerships and the realities of bioproduct commercialization. 2005. Cameron, S.I.; Smith, R.F.; Kierstead, K.E. Pharmaceutical Biology 43: 425-433.
Issued by: Atlantic Forestry Centre
Catalog ID: 32891
Availability: PDF (download)
Available from the Journal's Web site. †
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Thousands of bioactive phytochemicals have potential or established pharmaceutical, medicinal, or nutraceutical applications. Developing crops for bioactive compound extraction presents both research and development challenges and market-related considerations. Demonstrating that cultivation is economically viable is not sufficient. Using examples from both cultivated medicinals and our experience with Taxus canadensis Marsh., we discuss two types of market factors that must be considered before commercialization can proceed. Bioproduct market factors include availability of a cheaper product elsewhere from the same species; other species with the same bioactive compound; existence of a synthetic alternative to the naturally sourced phytochemical; the patent suite covering bioproduct extraction and use; commodification; and government bioresource regulation. The role and suitability of an industrial collaborator proposing to fund R&D activities also must be gauged by the R&D partner. The assessment should include the company’s knowledge of the marketplace; its capacity to sustain the proposed R&D funding; whether the intent is to market raw biomass or a value-added product; and how it is proposed to handle exclusivity and proprietary information. The economics of cultivating elite T. canadensis cultivars are also briefly summarized. It is concluded that consideration of bioproduct marketing realities can help to focus R&D goals and timelines based on both biomass cost reduction (or improvement in quality) and meeting the industrial collaborator’s specific needs.