Identifying Market Opportunities

When Vancouver-based Ostara tried to enter the US market with a breakthrough product that reduces water pollution, it was stymied by state regulations intended to…yes, reduce water pollution. So how did a company unfamiliar with the American regulatory system (and its politics) get its product into the hands of those who need it most?

Imagine a revolutionary fertilizer that not only helps municipal and industrial wastewater plants reduce pollution, but also reduces chemical runoff when applied to lawns, public parks and playing fields, preserving nearby water sources and requiring less fertilizer overall. Now imagine not being able to bring it to market thanks to blanket legislation passed before such a product was ever invented.

That’s exactly what happened to Ostara, which discovered that more than a dozen states had phosphorus-based fertilizer bans on the books or in the pipeline when they introduced Crystal Green in 2006.

Analyzing new market opportunities

Ostara knows clean technology, but mastering US politics doesn’t fall within their area of expertise. Blue Marble Project helped the company understand what it was up against, and charted a way forward. We began by conducting a nationwide study of fertilizer restrictions to understand Ostara’s primary barriers to entry and opportunities for overcoming those barriers, such as stopping pending legislation and reversing or securing exemptions to existing bans. We then identified key states where a focused effort would be most effective, targeted key legislators, and built local alliances in order to head off sweeping bans that didn’t account for Ostara’s unique solution.

Getting a foot in the door

Of course, an out of state (let alone out of country) company can’t just pick up the phone and make its case to elected officials for why its product should be exempt from existing or pending bans. So we helped pave the way, initiating conversations with government agencies and officials, as well as environmental groups who fought for the bans in the first place. We knew that we’d need to educate these critical stakeholders to help them understand how our client’s product actually supported the intention behind the original bans.

Lasting impact through diplomatic advocacy

Blue Marble is currently seeking reversal of one state ban, and we’ve successfully secured confirmations exempting Crystal Green from three state bans all in critical markets for Ostara. Just as importantly, Ostara has a better handle on the regulatory issues they face as they expand and a strategy for addressing other states’ bans, employing the services of Blue Marble as they go.

It’s this strategic approach to finding common ground that drives Blue Marble’s—and our clients’—successful environmental outcomes.



Photo courtesy NASA's Earth Observatory