Sundeep Vani joins Iowa State University as Chief Technology Officer for Biobased Products

By Dan Kirkpatrick, Office of the Vice President for Research

Sundeep Vani has joined Iowa State University to serve in the newly created role of Chief Technology Officer (CTO) for Biobased Products, part of the State of Iowa’s Biosciences-based economic growth initiative.

In his role as CTO, Vani will serve as a conduit between research and industry. He will work closely with both the Biobased Product platform lead, Brent Shanks, his team and the Iowa Innovation Corporation (IIC) CEO and staff to help identify promising emerging technologies and facilitate their development into commercial products.

“The chief technology officer is a lynchpin position that plays a vital role in accelerating translation of emerging technologies,” Shanks said. “We conducted a national search to identify an exceptional candidate who understands the science and technology behind the Biobased Products portfolio and has extensive industry experience. Vani certainly checks all those boxes, and we’re delighted to welcome him to Iowa State to serve in this important capacity.”

Vani comes to Iowa State with 21 years of experience in industrial biotechnology and a proven track record of translating research concepts into commercially successful products. He has spent the past two years as an independent consultant advising venture capital firms, serving as advisory board member for venture-backed companies as well as advising large multinationals. He served in a variety of technology-focused positions with Archer Daniels Midland Company, including the role of Technology Director. In this capacity he performed comprehensive assessments of many new product ideas, prioritized prospective projects based on potential for financial return and technical feasibility. In addition to his professional experience, Vani also received his Ph. D. in Chemical Engineering from Rice University and his M.B.A. from the Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management.

“I’m excited to join Iowa State in this mission to grow Iowa’s economy through the state’s overall Biosciences initiative,” Vani said. “Iowa has the production, agriculture and biotechnology assets and the expertise and research infrastructure – including the Center for Biorenewable Chemicals (CBiRC), Bioeconomy Institute (BEI), Center for Crop Utilization Research (CCUR) and BioCentury Research Farm (BCRF) – to lead the nation in the development of new value-added Biobased Product solutions.”

The addition of Vani to the Biobased Products development team at Iowa State was made possible, in part, by the $825,000 in fiscal year 2020 funding the university received from the State Legislature in July 2019.

“We firmly believe that a key to success in advancing the Biobased Products category is to expand our nationally renowned innovation ecosystem – in partnership with the Iowa Innovation Corporation and Iowa Bioscience Development Center – that will enable the state to grow and diversify its economy,” said Sarah Nusser, vice president for research at Iowa State. “Bringing Vani onboard as CTO is a critical step in affirming Iowa as an innovation leader in Biobased Products and will help accelerate technology transfer from the research labs of Iowa State to the marketplace served by Iowa-based companies.”