Supporting Sustainable Innovation with Information: A Case Study
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Howard, Heather A; Zwicky, David
At Purdue University, librarians advise students participating in a soybean innovation competition. The project, sponsored by a qualified state board, focuses on developing new industrial products from soybeans to foster environmental stewardship and reduce reliance on petroleum. In order to progress through the competition, products must be shown to have environmental benefits, technical benefits, feasibility, and novelty. The early stages of the competition require students to investigate and report on the marketability and patentability of their inventions. In order to complete these reports, groups meet with a business librarian and a patent librarian. The business librarian consults with the students on how to conduct market research, and discusses concepts such as performing a market analysis and determining a target market for their products. The patent librarian consults with the students on intellectual property and the United States patent system, demonstrating basic patent searching methods and recommending patent searching tools appropriate to the students’ level of expertise. In 2016, the librarians redesigned assessment rubrics for both the market analysis and patent search reports, in order to better align project outcomes with relevant learning objectives. Feedback from students and program coordinators was positive, showing clearer understanding of research reporting requirements. Anecdotally, the winning team met with both librarians multiple times through the course of competition, ensuring they understood both business and patent research methods. This form of interdisciplinary collaboration, while specific to this competition and this university, could be a model for other institutions to consider when working with sustainability-related innovation and agricultural commercialization programs.
Paper presented at 2018 United States Agricultural Information Network (USAIN) 16th Biennial Conference at Washington State University.
Sustainability; Innovation; Agriculture; Libraries; Patents; Learning Assessment