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By Jane Brissett, Duluth News-Tribune, Minn. Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Jan. 29--After nearly a decade of research, securing patents and receiving millions of investment dollars, NaturNorth Technologies hopes to show the world that birch bark isn't just for canoes anymore.
Originally called NaturTek, the company has moved from incubator space at the University of Minnesota Duluth's Natural Resources Research Institute to the Alworth Building in downtown. NaturNorth expects to launch its first commercial product this year.
That product is a crystalline powder substance called betulin, which is derived from the bark of the paper birch tree. Although it was discovered more than 200 years ago, it has not been available in significant amounts.
"As far as we know, we're the first company …