The Ohio Department of Development is to make available grants of $34 million to accelerate the growth of Ohio’s polymer and advanced materials industries.
The grants will be used to establish two Wright Centers of Innovation (WCIs). The centers will focus on developing new high-growth technologies that will drive the creation of 4,500 new jobs in Ohio’s polymer industry over the next three years and strengthen the state’s existing 140,000 polymer jobs.
The grants, made available through the state’s Third Frontier Project, will be distributed primarily to the Ohio State University (OSU), the University of Akron, and the University of Dayton, with some funds also allocated for the University of Toledo, Kent State University and Wright State University. They will be used to create the Center for Multifunctional Polymer Nanomaterials and Devices (CMPND) and the Ohio Biopolymers Innovation Center (OBIC), both located at OSU. CMPND received $22.5 million in Third Frontier awards, while OBIC was awarded $11.5 million.
Cash investments and in-kind match of over $52 million have also been pledged for CMPND by 60 polymer industry companies to support these programs. These include The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, GE Transportation, The Sherwin-Williams Company, Honda, The Timken Company, Owens Corning, Ashland, Keithley Instruments, Inc., PolyOne Corporation, Goodrich and Lockheed Martin.
“”The announcement today is an exciting culmination of many months of effort by Ohio’s polymer leaders, the Ohio Polymer Strategy Council (OPSC), key university leaders and industry collaborators,”” said Sharell Mikesell, Ph.D., OPSC executive director. “”Today’s support from the Third Frontier initiative will significantly strengthen Ohio’s position as the world’s premier location for the polymer and advanced material industries.””
Mikesell will serve as CMPND co-director along with James Lee, Ph.D., professor, the Ohio State University.
“”Our overall goal is to develop multiscale synthesis and manufacturing methods that are low cost and environmentally benign,”” Lee said.
The WCIs were major priorities in the Polymer Strategic Opportunity Roadmap developed last year. The Roadmap called for creation of world-class research centres in nanotechnology to build on Ohio’s extensive polymer technology and research resources. It also stressed the importance of industry, universities and government working in collaboration to achieve these goals. The creation of “”smart”” material applications will lead to job creation in Ohio’s polymer industry. According to the Roadmap, Ohio employs more people in polymers than any other state.
The Roadmap study also pointed out the unique opportunity and fit of polymers with agriculture in Ohio. The OBIC will extend Ohio’s synthesis and processing strengths into the arena of existing and future renewable biopolymers. Thomas Waltermire, PolyOne president and chief executive officer, and OPSC chairman, said that connection is critical to the industries’ success.
“”This gives our industry a major opportunity to be leaders in providing value-added products with nanotechnology and using materials that link to another Ohio strength — agriculture,”” Waltermire said.
Luis Proenza, Ph.D., president of the University of Akron, stated, “”This Third Frontier grant for CMPND will provide The University of Akron a major opportunity to strengthen our world-renowned polymer program. A building dedicated to the advancement of nanotechnology and other emerging polymer research will be added adjacent to our recently dedicated Polymer Engineering building. Our new collaborative efforts with OSU and the University of Dayton will contribute substantially to Ohio’s leadership in the global polymer industry.””
Frank O’Brien-Bernini, Owens-Corning vice president of science and technology, said the two centres “”will provide Ohio-based companies with a new and valuable opportunity to develop technologies and products to better compete in our global markets. Together, these initiatives will also enable unique collaborative efforts to explore the integration of nanomaterials with biopolymers. This brings together Ohio’s capabilities in polymers and agriculture in a powerful way.””
Mickey McCabe, Associate Vice President for Research, University of Dayton, said, “”This Wright Center of Innovation, coupled with Ohio’s recent Nanotechnology Summit and the excellent nanomaterials programs at our partner universities, gives us the critical mass needed to move ahead of other states in the nation. The growing momentum of Ohio’s nanotechnology initiatives will speed the translation of knowledge into products and create real economic impact and wealth for the state. The University of Dayton is proud to be a part of CMPND and remains a strong supporter of Ohio’s Third Frontier program.”” Wayne Earley, executive director of PolymerOhio said that, in addition to creating new technologies, the WCIs will have another impact that could be the most significant for the long-term business health of Ohio companies.
“”These centres will provide the opportunity, as never before, for collaborations across technologies and for new collaborations among Ohio companies,”” Earley said. “”In the end, this could be the biggest benefit for Ohio.””
The Third Frontier Project is the state’s largest-ever commitment to expanding Ohio’s high-tech research capabilities and promoting innovation and company formation that will create high-paying jobs for generations to come. The Wright Centers of Innovation are Third Frontier programs designed to support large-scale world-class research and technology development platforms that are focused on accelerating the pace of Ohio commercialization.
The Ohio Polymer Strategy Council is a group of senior industry, academic, and government leaders working collectively to strengthen Ohio’s polymer industry and its image, and to establish global leadership in technology- driven opportunities. The mission of the OPSC is to address challenges to the industry’s global competitiveness.
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