Product Development and Commercialization in the Cannabis Industry
R&D/Product Development and Commercialization in the Cannabis Industry presents a unique set of opportunities and challenges. The most exciting opportunity within this space is the potential to create a whole range of innovations, leveraging existing technology form various industries to bring to life product offerings that truly meet the consumers’ needs. And further, the potential to invent disruptive technologies and products that will change the way consumer’s interface with the product. The unique element of PD within this industry is the confluence of extraction technology, formulation-stability, efficacy, bioavailability, flavor, delivery system, ergonomics, packaging and branding, which requires a new approach to product development. As the industry expands and matures, there are two key areas that we must focus on and improve. Specifically, enforcing food safety standards, GMPs and best practices from food/bev and pharma industries, and bearing social responsibility to ensure packaging and branding is executed so as not to appeal to minors. It is vital that we raise the standard and commitment towards safety and social responsibility not only to protect consumers, but also in to ensure that Regulators continuously gain confidence with on-going practices. Finally, there are several institutional challenges that need to be navigated while commercializing products. This presentation will focus on three challenges. First, technical skill at operational/manufacturing level is improving but has significant additional room from growth. Second, volumes are still low compared to other industries resulting in challenges in equipment scoping and min. order quantities on raw materials. Finally, varying and constantly evolving regulations, which require significant efforts behind brand renovation, redesigns.
Shehzad brings proven technical leadership in product innovation developed at DIAGEO, the world’s one number premium spirits company. He started his journey in their Brand Technical Center, where he developed and commercialized close to 100 new and wide-ranging products over the span of 17 years. Leveraging his understanding of new product development, he took on several leadership roles within the organization including leading their Science and Technology platform in the field of fermentation, distillation and maturation. Eventually, he led the overall development and implementation of the entire operations management strategy for the North American whiskey portfolio.
In 2015, Shehzad ventured into the cannabis industry, as VP of R&D at Cannabistry Labs™ – a professional research, development and branding company dedicated to bringing outstanding product innovation to the legalized cannabis industry. Over the past two years, he has spearheaded the creation of a world-class research and development team, which has brought numerous products and technologies to market. With innovation focused on patient needs, the Cannabistry Labs’ team of engineers, scientists, regulatory specialists and branding gurus are actively creating and reimagining the wide range of cannabis categories by unlocking and optimizing many of the key chemicals found in Cannabis.
Shehzad earned his BS in Chemical Engineering from The Georgia Institute of Technology and holds an MBA in Finance and Operations Management from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.