Industrial Research Institute
IRI e-Innovation Newsletter
No. 425
June 2015
  Member Spotlight 


Justin Kugler

Putting Innovation in Space 




Space: a niche research sector, the future of R&D, or, as TV would have us believe, the final frontier? Justin Kugler, Industrial R&D Lead at the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), might say all three. Justin is responsible for helping companies of all sizes and across every sector figure out how to use the International Space Station (ISS) as a remote field laboratory in both novel and economically relevant ways.


An aerospace engineer with degrees from Texas A&M and Rice University, and a certificate in foresight from the University of Houston, Justin's former work includes the Central Intelligence Agency and NASA's Constellation and ISS programs. One of his main challenges at CASIS is balancing the mix of small innovators with large companies who want to use the Space Station in their research.


"Many companies today are outsourcing their R&D to universities, government labs, or small businesses," he explained. "Our stakeholders in Congress, at NASA, and on our Board of Directors, however, want to see big companies using the Space Station. My biggest challenge is finding the right balance in my portfolio between large corporate R&D initiatives and entrepreneurial innovators to keep the innovation pipeline flowing."


His challenges don't end there. He says much work is needed to convince innovators that the ISS is open to them. He recently discovered a small company pioneering in the field of microgravity-enabled materials that strongly indicated to the press that they had no interest in using the Space Station. He immediately wanted to know what path the company envisioned for itself without the only permanent research facility in space included in their efforts.


"Was it a misconception or were there barriers I needed to address?" he said. "Over a series of conversations that I initiated, I came to understand the company's needs, perceptions, and concerns. When the company came out of "stealth mode" late last year, they came to me to discuss how to use the ISS to expand their R&D portfolio and push the boundaries of their technology. We are now developing just such a research program for this company. I believe this has the potential to be the first validation of advanced materials production in Low Earth Orbit for commercial sale and open up an entirely new industry."


When asked what advice he would give young professionals entering his field, he said: "Find something that builds on your strengths, challenges you to work on your weaknesses, and keeps you intellectually and professionally fulfilled. That's different for everyone and that's okay. While I do still have the dream of one day being an astronaut, a mentor once advised me that I needed to find something that would be *enough* even if I never get to fly in space. Otherwise, it never will be *enough* and I'd drive myself and my loved ones miserable. So, while companies like SpaceX and Boeing are tackling the problem of how to make it cheaper and more reliable to get into space, I'm having a ball figuring out what you can do in space that has direct relevance and economic value here on Earth."


Member Companies in the News
-from PRNewswire

-from Detroit Free Press

-Corporate Press Release

-from Bloomberg

-from Building-Products

-Corporate Press Release

-Corporate Press Release

-Corporate Press Release

-from SpaceNews

-Corporate Press Release

What's New at IRI?

We are Coming to the Cleveland Area

Our Regional Meetings are back in swing and we are coming to Orrville, OH, later this month! The J.M. Smucker Company has graciously agreed to host the meeting which will be June 11, starting at 4:00 pm ET with some peer networking.

We are Urging Congress to Strengthen America's Innovation Capabilities

IRI recently signed a joint letter to Congress, "Innovation: An American Imperative," that brings together leaders in American industry and academia to urge our nation's leadership to end sequestration spending caps in scientific fields, permanently strengthen the R&D tax credit, reform visa policies, improve STEM education, and more.

We Continue to Explore the Future

At the 2015 Annual Meeting in Seattle, a group of 40 IRI members and meeting attendees played a live game around the IRI2038 Futures Study scenario known as "Everything's in Beta." Six teams were formed and given their own case to explore and build upon. At the end of the game, trends and themes from each team were examined further.

A sample of the infographic developed from the research the "Everything's in Beta" game produced.

Upcoming Events


Fall Networks
Dearborn, MI
Sept. 16 - 18

Cambridge, MA
Draper Lab
May 12



 2015 Member Summit

Agile Growth Strategies

Chicago, IL

October 18 - 21

Registration Opening Soon



***Previous Event***

2015 Annual Meeting


Check out the 2015 Annual Meeting summary page for a full rundown of speakers, presentations, and sponsors.

Videos of the #IRIAM15 presentations are now available on the IRIweb.


*Note: Please log in to your IRIweb account prior to opening the link to the videos.



Thank You 2015 Industry Sponsors



Platinum Sponsors






Gold Sponsors












Silver Sponsors







In This Issue
Member Spotlight
Member Companies in the News
What's New at IRI?
Upcoming Events
Thank You 2015 Industry Sponsors
Welcome New IRI Members
Innovation Training Research
The Biodesign Challenge
Share Your Good News

Welcome New IRI Members 
"Class of 2015"

VR: Ms. Cynthia Bouthot
Director, Business Development

(857) 277-9789

VR: Mr. Victor Leung

Business Development Manager, Innovation & Scouting

(203) 419-5356

VR: Dr. Sanjay Gupta

Director, Innovation Management, NA

(973) 541-8529

VR: Dr. Charlie Cooper

General Manager

(630) 840-2538

VR: Dr. Michael Mulqueen

Chief Technology Officer

(310) 317-5700

VR: Mr. Chadd Price

Head of Product Development

(734) 337-3021

VR: Ms. Nanako Mura

Associate Director KM/IP/Training

(847) 646-5172

VR: Dr. Chris Dambrowitz

Associate VP, Research & Innovation

(780) 378-6176


VR: Ms. Lee Clark-Sellers

Innovation Officer
(919) 677-3900

VR: Mr. Albert G. Dietz, III

VP of R&D and Chief Technology Officer

(704) 697-5319


VR: Mr. Wade Bowe


(719) 633-8333

Innovation Training Research


According to a Boston Consulting Group (BCG) survey of 1,500 global innovation executives, innovation is a top 3 priority. However, 70% of executives reported that their company's innovation capabilities are only average. Perhaps because of this, some large organizations are making efforts to train their people in innovation as one way to close this gap.

In order to understand such efforts, a study is being conducted in hopes of gathering insights from 60+ senior managers, each from Fortune 1,000 companies. Interviews will be 1 hour long, face-to-face when possible, recorded and transcribed into a word document and excel spreadsheet for analysis and later transformed into an article.

If you would like to know more or help by participating in this study, please contact
Lee Green at 703.647.2597.

The Biodesign


This year, IRI is supporting the Biodeseign Challenge by encouraging our members to get involved. This is a national design competition where university students devise ways we might harness living things to improve the form and function of our made world---from garments and buildings to food and infrastructure.

The Biodesign Challenge launches its inaugural year this October, complementing the work done in the IRI2038 Futures Study. Its organizers are offering IRI members partnership opportunities to envision how innovations in biotechnology might be inculcated in our products and the processes behind them.


The program culminates in the summer of 2016 at the Biodesign Summit where students, designers, biologists, investors, and industry leaders gather for presentations and a gallery of the winning projects.


To partner with the Biodesign Challenge, share your expertise with the students, or attend the summit, contact organizer Daniel Grushkin.

 Share Your Good News


Product releases?
Speaking engagements?
Member spotlight?
Let the IRI community know what you and your company are up to. Would you like to be featured in our Member Spotlight?

Send us an email and we'll include it in our newsletter.

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