Innovation Awards

Meet the Finalists: Leaders From BPS Technology, Swiss-American CDMO, and Vari

Three manufacturing and consumer goods execs share their thoughts on new product launches, entrepreneurship, and nurturing a culture of innovation.

Leading up to our second annual Innovation Awards event tomorrow night, we’re sharing excerpts from interview Q&As with the 51 finalists, one category at a time. Today, we feature our three Innovation in Manufacturing and Consumer Goods honorees.

For information on the virtual awards event, presented in partnership by D CEO and Dallas Innovates, click here. Tickets are just $20.


Bravis Brown

Bravis Brown

CEO, BPS Technology

ON INNOVATION: “Innovation is where product enhancement, environmental stewardship, and economic value intersect. We view our SymMAX technology as innovative because it hits on all three of those areas. It’s a first-of-its-kind host chemistry that will enhance almost any chemical or biological solution it’s mixed with by forming supramolecular structures, meaning that when SymMAX is introduced to a chemical solution, it will either work better or last longer than what’s available today. Moreover, we can reduce the chemical intensity in industries—more efficient use, makes for less use overall—and this can have broad-reaching environmental benefits. It also means that our partner companies’ cost-of-goods can decrease or they can increase the return on their investments in chemical inputs.”  

2020 HIGHLIGHTS:One of the biggest advancements we’ve had in the last 12 months is what we call our Chemical Integration Plan. Our lab, led by Dr. Robert Geiger, has developed a methodical and exacting process to test SymMAX with an extensive catalog of chemicals. With some formulations, we see the needle move a little, and with others, we see it move a lot. This allows us to focus on active chemistries where SymMAX will have the greatest impact.  

That process innovation has translated into two new products we’re developing for launch later this year. One is an oilandgasindustry product designed to enhance the efficacy of MEA triazine, which remediates the toxic hydrogen sulfide found in oilfield operations. What we’ve developed is commonly called an H2S scavenger, but the formulations we’ve crafted are far more effective and longer-lasting than what’s on the market. The other is in agriculture: One of our agriculture companies, Verano365, launched Evofactor this month, and it’s a proprietary nutrient management product that can help with fertilizer efficiency. We’re really excited about both of these products because they’re addressing critical issues in their industry segments. 

LESSON LEARNED:Staying true to our values is key to success. When you’re working with a technology that is as universal and as impactful as SymMAX, it would be easy to get distracted and spread ourselves too thin. Last year, we went through an exercise as an organization to spell out our mission, vision, and values. Being strategic, servant-minded, shepherds of our people and our technology, stewards of the earth’s resources, steadfast in our daily operations, and keeping a spiritual faithkeeps us grounded and on the same page as a team...” 

RATING DFW: Last November, we moved into a new campus in Argyle, with an innovation discovery center. As our team and capabilities have grown, we needed to expand our physical footprint. North Texas has no shortage of communities that are welcoming of business, which is always helpful for growth-stage companies. Because of the diversity of industries in North Texas, the economic climate in Texas in general, and the type of talent we can recruit to the area because of our quality of lifewe’re in a prime spot for cultivating innovation.   

LOOKING AHEAD:I’m excited about the strides my team has made in the last 12 months, which are astounding. In 2020, we filed 12 patents. To put that into perspective, there are companies three-times our size that would call it a win if they filed one patent per year. Because of the potentially endless applications for the SymMAX technologies, we see the utilization of chemicals enhanced by this technology scaling at a rapid pace. A scientific advancement with this type of broad-reaching implication could have a tremendous impact on how we care for and feed a rapidly growing population in a sustainable way. 


Jason McCann headshot
Jason McCann

Jason McCann

CEO, Vari

ON INNOVATION: Innovation is the essence of creativity. You must find ways to leapfrog yourself; otherwise, your competition will. The idea of relentlessly listening to your fans, serving their needs, exceeding their expectations, and addressing their pain points will help point you in the right direction.   

2020 HIGHLIGHTS:Surpassing $4 million worth of product in our Vari Community Giving program was definitely a highlight. The ripple effect and positive impact on our company culture and our communities are priceless. I am also blessed to see the response to our newest venture into Space-as-a-Service at VariSpace Las Colinas and VariSpace Southlake. 

LESSON LEARNED:Keep going, keep growing, and stay in the moment. Power through the lows, celebrate the highs, find ways to make a positive impact, and create memories. At the end of the journey, that’s what it’s all about.    

RATING DFW: I love North Texas. What an incredible place to run a local and global business. North Texas is a great place to connect with clients and recruit top talent. It’s a great place to live, offering excellent education, outdoor activities, and amazing entertainment. Our culture of innovation is incredible. The grit, determination, entrepreneurship, and unbridled work ethic, blended with Texas hospitality, inspires me to do more, learn more, and create more. 

LOOKING AHEAD:I love that so many entrepreneurs and great leaders are taking this moment in time to reflect, invest, innovate, and find ways to create the next normal. It is a perfect time to find new ways to serve others and build great companies.  


Philip O'Neill headshot
Philip O’Neill

Philip O’Neill

CEO, Swiss American CDMO

ON INNOVATION: “Innovation is the desire to improve or create something new. It is a natural intellectual curiosity and interest in how things are made, how they work, and how can they improve quality of life. It’s the ability to identify that which needs improvement, then the drive to see the improvement ideas implemented or a new creation invented.” 

2020 HIGHLIGHTS: A good innovation example took place last October. Swiss formulation scientists and marketing employees participated in the Formulation Challenge at the In-Cosmetics Conference in New York. The Formulation Challenge is like the Master Chef Mystery Box Challenge. Teams get a box of ingredients, and they have 90 minutes to create a skincare product for a target audience, complete with a product name and positioning story. Our Swiss American CDMO team won first place, beating Shiseido, Colgate-Palmolive, and Johnson & Johnson... We also opened a new warehouse and distribution center less than a half-mile from our primary manufacturing facility this yeardoubling our square footage. This allowed for smart floor planning, work-flow design, and equipment upgrades in the primary manufacturing facility and innovations in third-party logistics for our distribution center as more and more clients are selling their products direct. 

LESSON LEARNED:I have learned to appreciate every person for who they are and encourage them to be even better. I started my career as a pharmacist, and I still own pharmacies in Vermont. I felt it was important to move past the transactional to recognize, appreciate, and listen to each customer, whatever problem they had or diagnosis they received, even though no one told me to. I never believed that it was my job to just fill a prescription. I needed to show empathy and encourage customers to get better, never give up, seek the positive outcome. That lesson never left me as I moved into medical sales and different business leadership roles, including Swiss-American.    

RATING DFW: The low tax base, population growth, high-density of growing businesses, strong university and innovation hubs with SMU, TCU, UTD and NTU, hard-working heritage, modern city planning, and central location with big airports is an incredible listing versus other location options. Large logistics, financial, defense, hightech, and manufacturing companies are here for the long haul. 

LOOKING AHEAD:Innovation in healthcare accelerates at such a rapid paceI am excited to see where we go with the help of our clients, medical and scientific advisory boards, and supply chain partners. The market for topical skinsun, and wound products is growing, and we have built a core team that embraces possibilities and shows creativity and innovation in making the possible a reality...We have so much more we will do. We have a great team, and the future is bright.


Click here for more information on The Innovation Awards.

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