The Biotechnology Research and Development Corporation (BRDC) is yet another jewel in the Peoria Regional Biocollaborative’s (PRB) crown . Dr. Grant Brewen, president and CEO of the BRDC, is the latest member of the PRB Board of Directors. I was asked by a number of individuals what the BRDC is and, again to my surprise, the BRDC is another strength that began here in Peoria.
Incorporated in February 1988, the BRDC is dedicated to fostering and facilitating cooperation and collaboration in research and development among the nation’s publicly funded federal laboratories, academic institutions, and the private sector. BRDC is a privately owned for-profit corporation headquartered in Peoria at the USDA’s National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research Lab in Peoria.
The 13 corporations with equity positions in BRDC are:
- Agricultural Research & Development Corporation
- Alexion Pharmaceuticals
- Baxter Healthcare International
- Cargill Dow Polymers LLC
- The Dow Chemical Company
- Ft. Dodge Animal Health
- Mallinckrodt, Inc.
- Maxygen, Inc.
- Monsanto Company
- Pig Improvement Company
- Schering-Plough Animal Health
- Seminis Vegetable Seeds
BRDC was the innovative creation of Peoria businessmen working with representatives of the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, Commerce Department, and Congressional Representatives Robert Michel and Dick Durbin.
Operationally, BRDC funds research using monies it receives from a federal appropriation, annual research fees paid by its corporation equity partners, and income generated from licensing of technology developed through its research funding. Intellectual property generated by BRDC funding is either co-owned by BRDC and its host institution or is owned solely by the host institution and exclusively licensed to BRDC. BRDC, in turn, manages the intellectual property. Equity partners in BRDC are given the first opportunity to license technology, but BRDC is free to make the technology available to third parties.
BRDC has agreements with 40 universities, USDA/ARS, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Argonne National Laboratory, and several private research institutes.
Historically, BRDC funded research and development activities targeted to expanding and improving the utilization of agricultural commodities, both plant and animal. Research was conducted on improving the tools for plant genetic engineering, swine and cattle health and productivity, development of bioplastics, environmentally sound pest control, and efficient methods of utilizing biomaterials as feedstocks for the chemical industry through the use of enhanced biocatalytic conversions.
To date, BRDC has successfully prosecuted 100 patent applications and executed more than 40 commercial options to license and license agreements—all based on technology developed with BRDC funding. The technologies licensed include—but are not limited to—molecular genetic elements for controlling gene expression in plants, a method of predicting litter size in swine, bioplastics, and a start-based decoy used for controlling fruit flies. The latter technology was licensed to a startup company in central Illinois, and the initial incubator production facility is scheduled to be located in the pilot plant at NCAUR.
BRDC’s presence in Peoria and its commitment to the PRB increases the likelihood Peoria can successfully become a hub of technology and innovation. IBI