Local leaders unite to recruit and retain talent


UA President Luis Proenza told researchers, physicians, medical researchers, executives, entrepreneurs, investors and attorneys gathered for Akron ICE, “We have a great deal to offer the nation.”

Innovation and entrepreneurship convergence underscored the message echoed at a Jan. 26 meeting among University of Akron faculty members and graduate students in biosciences, law and engineering with area physicians, medical researchers, executives, entrepreneurs, investors and attorneys. They gathered for the Akron Innovation through Convergence and Entrepreneurship (Akron ICE) Program kickoff meeting, held at the University.

“What we’re doing at The University of Akron and in Northeast Ohio is collaborating in new and innovative ways, which enables us all to win,” UA President Dr. Luis Proenza told audience members who gathered to discuss strategies to recruit, develop and retain talent. They addressed plans for a proposed formalized research experience engaging students from STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) with long-term biomedical research projects.

UA students will gain through participation

“This program will involve engineering Ph.D. candidates, medical residents and fellows and doctoral science students and will be supported by graduate students in patent, contract law and business,” says Dr. George Newkome, UA vice president for research and president of the University of Akron Research Foundation (UARF). Newkome adds that faculty members, physicians, industry executives, entrepreneurs, practicing lawyers and area investors will mentor the teams.

Dr. Steve Schmidt, director of the Division of Surgical Research at Summa Health System, also spoke at the event.

The program will incorporate core teams of graduate students from engineering and sciences working with medical residents/fellows and pursuing long-term research projects for four years, while law and business students will work in one- to two-year rotations, according to Dr. Ajay Mahajan, UA associate dean for research in the College of Engineering and Akron ICE director.

“One tangible outcome will be spinout companies based on the intellectual property generated. This new program will be the initial portal to the well-established and successful Akron Archangel network,” Newkome says.

Widespread Collaboration

Speakers at the meeting included Dr. Steve Schmidt, director of the Division of Surgical Research at Summa Health System; Dr. Scott Weiner, chairman of orthopaedics, Summa Health System; Dr. Anthony Margida, director, Akron Global Business Accelerator; Barry Rosenbaum and Gordon Schorr, both UARF senior fellows; along with Proenza and Mahajan. Representatives from Akron’s three major hospitals, NASA Glenn Research Center, Case Western Reserve University, among others attended the event.

“The Akron ICE is a unique program that builds upon the existing strengths of the Akron region in the bio-area, and provides an additional platform for recruiting highly motivated graduate students and gives them an opportunityafter graduation to stay in Northeast Ohio as part of a vibrant ecosystem,” Mahajan says.

Media contact: Denise Henry, 330-972-6477 or henryd@.uakron.edu.