Dr. Matthew Becker (far left), associate professor of polymer science at UA, explains to, from left, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development John Fernandez, UA President Dr. Luis M. Proenza and Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron President and CEO Dr. Frank L. Douglas how the multi-laboratory facility accommodates the installation of prototype manufacturing apparatus for materials and device fabrication, particularly in collaboration with industry. Here, the group is viewing a state-of-the-art research instrumentation lab in the facility’s large high-bay area.
U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development John Fernandez visited The University of Akron Wednesday, Jan. 26, to present The University of Akron Research Foundation (UARF) and the Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron (ABIA) with the i6 Challenge Award, a competition to identify and support the nation’s best ideas for technology commercialization and entrepreneurship in six different regions of the U.S. In his remarks, Fernandez praised the UARF and ABIA’s winning collaborative proposal and its ideas for technology, commercialization and entrepreneurship projects that provide platforms for training a skilled workforce and creating new technologies and jobs in Ohio.
The UARF and ABIA’s proposal was one of six winning submissions – out of 83 total applicants – in the U.S. The winning team from each region received $1 million from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) in support, and winners are also eligible for additional awards from the National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation.
UA President Dr. Luis M. Proenza and U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development John Fernandez (middle) leave the National Polymer Innovation Center following a tour of the 42,750-square-foot facility, where faculty members, students and research partners from industry and national laboratories work together to generate new knowledge particularly in areas of national significance, including biomaterials synthesis, biosensor and bio-device design, photovoltaic cells and selectively permeable membranes.
Referring to President Barack Obama’s State-of-the-Union address, Fernandez echoed the president’s “sense of urgency” in creating new American jobs, and that part of the answer in moving the country forward lies within “strong, competitive regions like Northeast Ohio who are doing the heavy lifting in driving innovation and entrepreneurship, like the compelling projects you have here in Akron,” said Fernandez, who is a native of Canton and former mayor of Bloomington, Ind.
“We can’t do it all from Washington,” he said. “We created the i6 Challenge with the notion of shining a bright light on the research innovations that lead to product commercialization and new jobs. The collaborative project between the University of Akron Research Foundation and the Austen BioInnovation Institute was very compelling and helps to position Northeast Ohio to compete in the global marketplace.”
UARF and ABIA’s award-winning project, “Innovative Solutions for Invention Xceleration,” or “ISIX,” aims to increase innovation and minimize the time from idea to commercialization of new technology by bringing together world-class scientists, physicians, engineers, researchers and entrepreneurs in the biomedical and polymer science industries of Northeast Ohio.
Fernandez was joined by UA President Dr. Luis M. Proenza, who also serves as board chair of UARF; Dr. Frank L. Douglas, president and CEO of ABIA; Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic; Summit County Executive Russell Pry; and Dr. George R. Newkome, vice president for research at UA and president and CEO of UARF, along with representatives from Northeast Ohio’s Congressional delegation and some of the region’s most innovative and successful economic development organizations.
The i6 Challenge seeks to identify and support the nation's best ideas for technology commercialization and entrepreneurship in six different regions of the country.
Projects include efforts to drive innovative technologies in the medical and bioscience industries to market more quickly by bringing end-users of technology with scientific experts from industry, health care, and academia. The projects are supported by commercialization experts, private sector entrepreneurs, and successful technology product manufacturers and distributors. Winners hailed from the six EDA regions:
For more information, visit Akron’s ISIX.