Innovation and job creation: The best of the best


Akron Surface Technologies, Inc. (ASTI) and SNS Nano Fiber Technology are two distinctly different local businesses with two things in common: They are young, innovative engineering companies spun out of groundbreaking University of Akron research, and now both have been honored as recipients of the 2013 NorTech Innovation Award.

Additionally, ASTI and SNS give Akron two of the seven local winners of this honor of innovation, helping to revitalize Northeast Ohio's economy with what NorTech, a technology-based economic development organization, says "is the potential to transform our region by creating jobs, attracting capital and generating long-term, positive economic impact."

Focus on the future

Sponsored by NorTech and Crain’s Cleveland Business, the NorTech Innovation Awards honor the region's most innovative organizations that have either demonstrated dramatic impact in a specific industry or market sector, or have the clear potential to do so in the near future.

Gary Doll

ASTI was recognized for its accomplishments in developing engineered surface solutions – utilizing a unique nanocomposite coating system developed by research partners at The Timken Company and UA – to solve complex problems associated with friction, wear and corrosion so products perform better, are less vulnerable to environmental conditions, or expend less energy.

Darrell Reneker

ASTI also was honored for its distinctive business model, an open innovation concept that resulted in the formation of the Timken Engineered Surfaces Laboratories (TESL) at The University of Akron. Launched in October 2012, it is a place designed to speed the path between discovery and commercialization with students, faculty and industry partnered in the process.

Timken and UA’s College of Engineering contributed to the financing of the labs and the equipment housed in the labs, where students and faculty will work alongside industry experts in surface engineering. TESL is led by Gary Doll, professor and Timken Endowed Chair in Engineered Surfaces and former Timken researcher who led the team that developed the coating technology.

Daniel Smith

Track record of success

SNS Nano Fiber Technology, a joint venture between The University of Akron Research Foundation (UARF) and Struktol Company of America, was founded in 2005 and manufactures super absorbent nanofiber products that can be used to build better bandages or sop up oil spills at sea. UA professors Darrell Reneker and Daniel Smith, who developed the electrospinning process used to make SNS's products, were involved in startup of the company, which now employs several former UA graduate students. SNS is the first company to successfully integrate large particles in nanofiber materials and has a fabrication process that produces larger quantities much quicker and at lower prices than any other company in the market.

George R. Newkome, vice president for research and dean of the Graduate School at UA, who serves as president and CEO of UARF, says NorTech's work honoring startup companies is crucial in commercializing promising university technologies, thus building the economic base within our community.

George Newkome

"This award is very important to the University and UARF, and we're very grateful to NorTech for honoring the hard work of our great researchers," Newkome said. "With innovative research and the right leadership, these companies can move quickly to attract funding, focus on market needs and work tirelessly to turn laboratory technologies into viable commercial products."

NorTech has presented the Innovation Awards since 2000. The 2013 NorTech Innovation Awards were presented by NorTech, Crain's Cleveland Business and Kent State University, and sponsored by Cleveland Public Power, Keystone Compliance and Fay Sharpe LLP.

For detailed descriptions and short videos of all seven honorees and their breakthrough technologies, visit NorTech 2013 Innovation Awards.

About Akron Surface Technologies Inc.

Akron Surface Technologies Inc. (ASTI) specializes in engineered surface solutions that include surface treatments and coatings to enhance performance, and provide unique value to the marketplace. ASTI provides science, technology, engineering and manufacturing solutions for surface enhancement; customer-specific surface solutions; and customer-specific business models.

About SNS Nano Fiber Technology

SNS Nano Fiber Technology LLC is a producer of specialized nanofiber matrices. Using proprietary technology, self-supporting nanofiber mats can be fabricated. Particles can be entrapped in the nanofiber matrix or encapsulated within the nanofibers. SNS Nano Fiber is part of a family of companies, which includes Struktol Company of America, Schill+Seilacher "Struktol" Aktiengesellschaft in Hamburg, Germany, Schill+Seilacher Aktiengesellschaft in Böbligen, Germany, and Struktol Canada, Limited. Utilizing Struktol’s experience with additives and the polymer expertise of The University of Akron, we have developed a unique niche that did not formerly exist within the realm of nanofiber production.

About NorTech

NorTech, a technology-based economic development organization, is working to revitalize Northeast Ohio's economy by accelerating the growth of regional innovation clusters in the advanced energy, flexible electronics and water technologies industries. NorTech engages small, large and midsize companies and universities for business, funding and research opportunities that create jobs, attract capital and have a long-term, positive economic impact for the region.

Media contact: Laura Massie, 330-972-6476 or