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National Composite Center Holds First Annual University Technology Incubator Ceremony

  • Tuesday, 3rd June 2008
  • Reading time: about 4 minutes

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The National Composite Center (NCC) held its inaugural commencement exercises today.

The ceremony, which took place at NCC’s Dayton Campus for Advanced Materials Technologies (DC-AMT), recognized three companies that have successfully graduated from the Center’s technology incubation program to become independent businesses in the Dayton Region.

Guest speakers included U.S. Representative Mike Turner; Montgomery County Commissioner Debbie Lieberman; Dayton Mayor Rhine McLin; Lou Luedtke, President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), NCC; Jim Leftwich, Chief Operating Officer (COO), Dayton Development Coalition (DDC) and Lyle Dunbar, CEO, DR Technologies and Vector Composites. “The event provides us with an annual technology based economic development platform for telling the success stories of start-up companies who are transforming themselves into self-sustaining businesses,” said Luedtke.

NCC is the only nonprofit total economic development solution for advanced materials in the US. The Center recognized WebCore Technologies, Inc., with an honorary certificate. WebCore was the first company to incubate at the Center and then move to its own production facility after achieving manufacturing status. Previously housed at NCC for four years, WebCore used NCC’s pilot production facility to mature its proprietary TYCOR fibre reinforced composite core technology. WebCore moved to its 70,000 square foot Dayton location in 2005.

The second graduate, Composite Advantage LLC (CA), was spun off and incubated at NCC for two and a half years. CA recently moved into its new Dayton-based facility where the company manufactures very large fiber reinforced composite parts for structurally demanding applications and corrosive environments. Vector Composites, named NCC’s “valedictorian,” is a wholly-owned subsidiary of DR Technologies (DRT) which owns and operates three subsidiaries engaged in engineering, development and production of aerospace composite structure components. DRT acquired Vector Composites Inc. from NCC in 2005.

“NCC recognized early on the vital importance of investing in and supporting advanced materials technologies-related companies to help grow the local economy,” said Luedtke. “The development of our unique business model has resulted in a network that consists of scientists, production, manufacturing and business people able to exchange information and ideas in a nurturing environment. Through this network we’ve built a unique atmosphere for problem solving – a difficult combination to find in a traditional incubator. Typically, incubators tend to be either science or business oriented with little practical manufacturing experience. NCC and its partners provide it all.”

The Center’s economic development model, incubation services and ability to commercialize new products quickly on a true manufacturing scale captured the attention of San Diego, California-based DRT which purchased Vector to build a business base that would create a substantial number of jobs in Dayton over the next three to five years. Vector’s grand opening was announced at the NCC-U commencement ceremony.

“Vector is a long-term tenant at DC-AMT,” said Dunbar, “and its grand opening marks a milestone for us.” “We have completed facility renovation and tenant improvements and expect to complete the purchase of manufacturing equipment by June 2008. In addition, we’ve implemented a plan to obtain AS9100 quality program certification which is based on our current successful DRT and V System Composites AS9100 program. The certification is a necessary requirement to implement aerospace production here at Vector Composites. We will start transitioning existing production work for a commercial jet engine composite inlet program from our V System Composites company in Anaheim, CA, to Dayton in July 2008. We have also obtained our first independent contract from the Navy to work with the Center’s proprietary QuickStep process and equipment, co-located at the DC-AMT building to evaluate lower cost out-of-autoclave manufacturing processes.”

NCC has acquired nearly $40 million of infrastructure and equipment for a wide range of composite processes and capabilities. Research shows that in the first three years of company formation, 90 percent of start-up businesses fail. In the university incubation setting, the failure-rate percentage falls to 70 percent. Due to the total solution and vast network of resources that NCC provides, its success-rate percentage for start-ups is more than 80 percent. Since the Center established its program, it has nurtured 50 companies and produced more than 600 jobs.

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