Sunday, June 29, 2008

State proposes nearly $20 million for research work

Ben's note: Out of $20mm proposed - $5.5mm to Central Ohio. A key component of tech growth in basic research. The trick is then how to translate that basic research to commercialized product/services. I am personally astounded how LITTLE of all the research happening in Central Ohio turns into commercial opportunities benefitting Central Ohio. For example did you know that the Ohio State Research Foundation (with 95 employees)publishes that their annual award volume is $379mm? Battelle's 1997 annual report indicates that they oversee $4 billion (yes billion) dollars worth of R&D activity? I know that the whole issue of tech transfer is very complicated and that there are all sorts of challenges from going from lab to profitable commercialization but don't you think that we ought to see more than the trickle happening in Central Ohio. What do you think?

Originally run in Business First of Columbus 6.27.08

A state technology development commission has proposed sending nearly $20 million to seven Ohio research institutions and universities.

The Ohio Third Frontier Commission has recommended the state spend $19.6 million for the proposals through the commission's Wright Projects Program. The proposals aim to attract research projects in areas such as pathogen detection, rubber production, fuel cells and commercialization.

"These projects demonstrate the teamwork between our educational institutions and private companies that is so critical to ensuring a solid foundation for our growing industries," Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher said in the release. "Strengthening the links among education, research and economic development is not only our mission but our obligation in making sure we attract and retain jobs of the future."

Fisher is chairman of the commission and director of the Ohio Department of Development. The proposals must be reviewed by the State Controlling Board.

Included in the funding recommendations:

* $3 million for Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland to build the Case Center for Surface Engineering. The center would commercialize industrial products for surface imaging and materials analysis.
* $3 million for a project between the Northeastern Ohio Universities Colleges of Medicine and Pharmacy in Portage County and Pathogen Systems Inc. and Kent State University. They would research and commercialize a real-time pathogen detection instrument to be adapted for the military, homeland security and the food industry.
* $3 million for Rhodes State College in Allen County for an Advanced Materials Deposition Center. The center would collaborate with research institutions and Ohio Northern University to create engineered and faux stainless steel finishes for sheet metal goods.
* $3 million for Stark State College of Technology in Stark County to expand its partnerships with Rolls-Royce Fuel Cells Systems Inc. and Contained Energy Inc. for fuel cell commercialization and product development.
* $2.1 million for the Center for Excellence in Advanced Materials Analyses at Youngstown State University.
* $2.5 million in development funding for the Columbus-based Edison Welding Institute.
* $3 million for the Ohio State University Research Foundation, which is working with research centers and area businesses to develop a domestic source of natural rubber.

Projects that receive funding from the Wright program must include at least one Ohio company and focus on areas of advanced materials, power and propulsion, information technology and instruments and controls and electronics, the commission said.

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Blogger C. Matthew Curtin said...

Do any tech transfer programs really work very well? The fact is that a lot of research is being done but with the amount of hyperspecialization that exists, a lot of this stuff tends to wind up being difficult to identify as being of particular commercial value in and of itself (companies already in certain lines of business could benefit, but they're often doing this kind of work). A lot of other research suffers from a lack of exposure of ideas outside of the laboratory and consequently needs to be developed and re-developed in a commercial context to have a lot of value. There are the obvious cases where patents like the one covering the core of Google's algorithms wind up producing huge benefits to the universities holding the patents, but there are zillions of patents, zillions of companies, and only one Google. And as every engineer is taught in the university, optimizations should be made for the most common case not the edge cases.

I'm no domain expert here, so I'm simply asking the questions. I don't know that what we're seeing here is unique to Columbus, as though other communities are not only doing the research but also developing the commercial entities that capitalize on the developments made in their own backyards.

June 29, 2008 at 10:02 PM  

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