Product Center Names Experienced CEO to Help Bioeconomy Business Startups Ruben Derderian

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Ruben Derderian (view larger image)

To assist entrepreneurs looking to start biofuel, alternative energy or other non-traditional agricultural product companies, the Michigan State University Product Center for Agriculture and Natural Resources named Ruben Derderian associate director with responsibilities for bioeconomy business.

Derderian brings more than 30 years of executive-level business experience to the position, including expertise in strategic planning, competitor analysis, and product development and launch.

“In my new position, I will be focusing on non-traditional agricultural products such as burning biomass for energy, commercial production of cellulosic ethanol, using new sensor technology to monitor irrigation water and food crops for pathogens, and alternative energy such as wind generation of electricity,” Derderian explained. “There are a lot of new bioeconomy technologies being developed, and one of my roles will be to help entrepreneurs define their needs and then connect them with the appropriate resources at MSU or other places.

“I’ll help entrepreneurs think through their business plans and strategies,” he continued. “Once an entrepreneur gets to the commercialization stage, there are a number of logistical issues he or she faces. I’ve been there and I’ve done that, and I know I can help people be successful.”

Founded in 2003, the MSU Product Center for Agriculture and Natural Resources has helped more than 600 clients develop and commercialize agriculture and natural resources products. As Michigan expands its role in the bioeconomy, adding a position to focus solely on the bioeconomy made sense to Chris Peterson, Product Center director.

“The Product Center has great success in serving its traditional clientele in food, agriculture and natural resources,” said Peterson, MAES scientist, who holds the Nowlin Chair of Consumer-Responsive Agriculture. “But, we know that bioeconomy ventures are going to have bigger scale, more advanced technology and more formal venture capital needs than we have dealt with normally. Ruben’s background perfectly fits our needs in serving these types of sophisticated ventures. And besides all that, clients will find him a great coach to work with on venture development.”

It also made sense to Steve Pueppke, director of the MSU Office of Biobased Technologies and the Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station.

“The OBT is delighted to partner with the Product Center to assist Michigan entrepreneurs who want to help create the bioeconomy in our state and the Great Lakes region,” Pueppke said. “Ruben brings impressive business credentials to the job, and we are looking forward to having him as part of the team.”

Derderian’s position is funded by the Office of Biobased Technologies and MSU Extension. The Product Center is funded by the MAES and MSUE.

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