New University lab promotes idea-sharing and innovation


The ribbon was cut today to officially open the Timken Engineered Surfaces Laboratories (TESL) at The University of Akron, marking the launch of an open innovation concept in a tangible space — a place designed to speed the path between discovery and commercialization with students, faculty and industry partnered in the process.

The Timken Company and the 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. The goal is to solve complex problems associated with friction, wear and corrosion, so that products perform better, are less vulnerable to environmental conditions, or expend less energy.

Shared risk, shared rewards

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The equipment, instrumentation and technology know-how that exist in these labs will be useful to companies looking to partner with The University of Akron in research and development through the recently established Center for Surface Engineering and Lubrication Research (CSELR). The concept of open innovation recognizes that many companies cannot alone bear the risk of investing in research. Working in partnership with a university reduces that risk. With an expertise in commercializing research and intellectual property law, The University of Akron can help companies develop new products and technologies and yet protect the proprietary nature of the process.

The dedication of the new laboratory at The University of Akron’s Engineering Research Center on Oct. 19 also advances the already strong partnerships forged between UA and industry. Whereas the national average for industry-funded research at universities totals typically 6 percent of the overall national research budget, the College of Engineering at UA receives more than 25 percent of its research funding from industry.

The open innovation agreement between UA and Timken aims to also create opportunities to spin out companies through technology transfer from academic laboratory research to commercialization. And the first such spin-out is Akron Surface Technologies Inc. (ASTI), a new venture to market new surface technologies to industry.
The ultimate outcome of open innovation: creation of new jobs. The University is well-positioned to provide qualified engineers, with a 93 percent increase in student enrollment in the last eight years. It's estimated that more than 92 percent of engineering graduates from UA land jobs in their majors immediately upon their graduation.

Universities are economic drivers

According to UA President Luis M. Proenza, TESL epitomizes the Akron Model for economic development.

"Universities must be engaged with the larger community and its regional economies to build a highly synergistic and reciprocal relationship with each other – universities feeding the economy and the economy feeding the university back," he says.

"Innovation is one of our core values at Timken," said James W. Griffith, Timken president and chief executive officer. "By partnering with The University of Akron, and by leveraging open innovation to create new technologies at TESL, we are in a stronger position to produce the next generation of manufacturing technology leadership from right here in Northeast Ohio.”

TESL is one of five specialized laboratories strategically housed inside UA's Engineering Research Center to provide engineering solutions to meet regional, national and global needs. Other initiatives within the UA Engineering Research Center include: National Center for Education and Research in Corrosion and Materials Performance, Institute for Biomedical Engineering Research, Center for Advanced Vehicles and Energy Systems, and the National Science Foundation Center for Tire Research.

About The Timken Company

The Timken Company (NYSE: TKR; keeps the world turning with innovative friction management and mechanical power transmission products and services that help machinery perform more efficiently and reliably. With sales of $5.2 billion in 2011 and approximately 21,000 people operating from locations in 30 countries, Timken is Where You Turn® for better performance.

About The University of Akron

The University of Akron offers more than 300 associate, bachelor's, master's, doctorate and law degree programs – with accreditations by 35 professional agencies. With nearly 30,000 students and $65 million in research expenditures, UA is among the nation's strongest public universities focused on innovation, entrepreneurship, and investment in community and economic growth. Programs are targeted to diverse groups of learners, including full-time, part-time and online students, veterans and adults returning to the classroom. The distinctive Akron Experience enhances postgraduate success through internships and co-ops, academic research (both undergraduate and graduate), study abroad, on-campus student employment and service projects.

Media contact: Eileen Korey, 330-972-8589 or