• Our Mission

    Providing meaningful work experience for students.

    Water droplet splashing, causing ripples

The RBDC is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.


The Research and Business Development Center provides value for a variety of clients. Our focus areas include agriculture, business, and computer tech. However, there are opportunities for all industries. Through RBDC’s value-added approach research and products are completed with an attention to detail customized to the unique needs of each client.


We supply alumni with a great opportunity to give back. Providing projects for students can help alumni to stay connected and receive help on work that needs to be done. Alumni also have the chance to personally help individual students enhance their learning through the experience of working on a project for a client.


Students can immerse in Applied Learning Projects (ALPS) while in school through the RBDC. This accelerates professional growth and provides tangible experience. Students perform research and develop products to provide solutions for our clients’ challenges. Industry professionals and faculty mentors assist students in delivering high quality results. Learn more about ALPS.

Our Value Added Approach


Seasoned professionals in a variety of fields.


An honest broker with tight internal oversight.


Systematic approach that leads to consistency.

Relationship Driven

Building bridges through trust.


Driven to empower clients, students, and faculty.

Rock climber standing at the top of a mountain, overlooking the valley below
  • Our Legacy

    A History of the RBDC

    Picture of a clock - the history of the RBDC

E Center

This non-profit organization was established in 2006 by Robert Pothier, a retired businessman and venture capital partner, to grow the local economy. It served an 18 county region, the E Center’s projects have brought hundreds jobs and millions of dollars in venture capital and other investment funding to Idaho,  western Wyoming, and southern Montana. The E Center averaged 75 projects per year. Through the course of its existence it served over 2,000 students from Brigham Young University–Idaho and Idaho State University. These students participated in research teams that equipped clients with information to support informed decision making.


Southeast Idaho Research Institute was a non-profit organization founded in 2010. Its primary purpose was to facilitate collaboration between researchers at Brigham Young University–Idaho and other institutions and organizations. The mission was focused on providing mentored research experiences to students while promoting scientific research and the practical applications of new technology. This was accomplished by creating dynamic mentored research opportunities, expanding research collaboration, enabling existing researchers to increase productivity, helping establish and develop new research programs, linking researchers to funding and helping area businesses and start-up ventures.

Bob Pothier

Bob Pothier


Bob is the founder of the E Center and later helped found SIRI. He is a partner with the RenewableTech Ventures and Epic Ventures. Prior to his work in the eastern Idaho region, he was chairman and chief executive officer of Rockford Corporation. Bob specialized in management team building, sales and marketing strategy development. He completed the Executive Program at Stanford University and holds a BS in finance from Brigham Young University.

The E Center has a wonderful opportunity to be a catalyst for economic growth and development in Eastern Idaho. The area is poised to grow economically in a significant way. The E Center is facilitating this growth by creating a network of resources including ideas, entrepreneurs, businesses and capital. These resources can be dynamically aligned to stimulate the development of new enterprise and strengthen those that already exist. The opportunity is significant.

Kim B. Clark, former President of Brigham Young University-Idaho

Merger of Two Like Minded Non-profits

In 2014, the significant decision was made to combine these two local non-profits in southeastern Idaho to leverage the strengths of each organization and to expand overall capacity. The E Center was merged into SIRI. Then, SIRI was renamed the Research and Business Development Center (RBDC) to reflect the new expanded mission. The legacy of both predecessors informed the desire for the RBDC to still serve clients, students and faculty with excellent opportunities that can ultimately impact the lives of each. The merger has created efficiencies and synergies that we are excited to utilize in order to scale our endeavors to reach an ever greater number of clients, students and faculty.

Meet The Team

Phillip Wheatley

Interim Executive Director

Philip retired from Idaho National Laboratory after 37 years. His experience includes engineering management, analysis and testing of energy systems, and nuclear waste management. He contributed to technical programs in the areas of reactor safety analysis, and radioactive waste management. Philip is a registered professional engineer.

Taylor Woods

Taylor Woods

Administrative Director

Originally from Utah, Taylor moved to southeast Idaho to continue his education. His prior work experience includes business consulting, customer service, quality control and property management. He earned a BS in business management from Utah State University and an MBA from Idaho State University.

Tyler Searle

Director of Agriculture

Tyler was raised on a Dairy and alfalfa farm in Southern Idaho. He received his bachelor’s degree in Agronomy from BYU-Idaho. He has worked with the RBDC Ag Division for 2 years. He is a member of the American Society of Agronomy(ASA), the Soil Science Society of America(SSSA), Crop Science Society of America(CSSA) and the National Postsecondary Agricultural Student Organization (PAS).

Will Jenson

Will Jenson

Director of Business Research

Will is from Utah and moved to Idaho in 2007. As an economist, he specializes in community and regional development. Previously, he worked for the Idaho Department of Labor. Will teaches economics as an adjunct professor at Idaho State University and Brigham Young University-Idaho. He earned a BS and MS in economics from Utah State University.

Brady Adams

Director of Sales and Business Development

Brady was raised in Idaho Falls. He is passionate about helping businesses be successful. His prior experience includes business consulting with an emphasis in treasury management, purchasing and contract negotiations, and supply chain management.  He earned a BS in international business from Utah State University and his MBA from Northwest Nazarene University.

Rob Tonks

Rob Tonks

Director of University Relations + Marketing

Rob is an Idaho native who is an idealist at heart looking to make the world a better place. His broad background provides a wide skill set including five years as a licensed architect. His architecture degrees are from the University of Idaho. He completed his MBA with a social innovation minor at Brigham Young University.

Teresa Hardman

Teresa Hardman

Administrative Assistant

Teresa is from Texas and came to Idaho in 2001. Her experience includes working for Reliant Energy in administrative functions in an accounting department and drafting for DOW Chemical. She has also been a deputy clerk for a district clerk. She has attended Brazosport Community College and Brigham Young University-Idaho.

John ward

Business Development Specialist

John grew up in Bloomington, Idaho and graduated from the USAF Academy.  His 25 year USAF career included over 1000 hours as an F-4 and F-111 navigator. He spent over 12 years in New Product Development including time as a major Program Manager on the F-16 and F-22 programs. Following his USAF life, he worked for Emerson Electric and became VP of Product Planning helping develop many industry-changing air conditioning and heating products including compressors, thermostats, and gas valves. He also led the Emerson Climate Tech Leadership Development Program.

Reach out to our team to find out more about how we can help.