NASA Roadshow visits Toledo to help local companiesWritten by Duane Ramsey | | firstname.lastname@example.org
The NASA Roadshow, an innovative approach to economic development and job creation, visited Toledo June 12 to help area companies solve their technical challenges.
The Roadshow made its local stop at the Tom and Elizabeth Brady Innovation Center the the University of Toledo’s engineering campus to report how it has assisted several local companies. Toledo was one of two stops the Roadshow made in Ohio with the other visit to Youngstown.
NASA chose Toledo and Youngstown based on the specific technical challenges facing local companies that would benefit from the brainpower, research capabilities and resources at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland.
“Ohio really understands it and has taken a leadership role in this program. We intend to remain active in Ohio,” said Diana Hoyt, program executive for innovation and strategic partnerships in the office of the chief technologist at NASA headquarters, who spoke at the event.
The Roadshow is part of a federally funded, three-year experimental program developed to comply with a White House directive that NASA and other federal agencies accelerate their technology transfer activities by making the benefits of its research and development investments available to private enterprises.
“NASA is here to help companies develop new technologies using the NASA brand,” Hoyt said.
Several businesses from Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan were given an opportunity to spend eight hours with NASA experts in their field to address the challenges they face. Hoyt called upon some of those businesses in attendance to relate their experience to the Roadshow audience at UT.
A team from Cooper Tire & Rubber Company in Findlay said they met with two highly trained experts to discuss how NASA’s expertise could help the company create simulations of solutions to meet their manufacturing challenges.
A representative from Metal Forming and Coining Corp. in Maumee looked to NASA’s expertise to help the company improve efficiencies in the manufacturing process for automotive components.
NASA provided some mechanical expertise to H & H Specialties of Temperance, Michigan, for production of “green” foam products for the pharmaceutical industry.
Two other companies that received technical expertise from NASA included Henny Penny Corp. of Eaton, Ohio, and SkyLife Technology Holdings LLC of Toledo. SkyLife Technology developed a new disaster relief distribution system that could get aid to disaster victims quicker.
Four other area companies have been invited to the Glenn Research Center to receive help from NASA scientists, including a second division of Cooper Tire, Hirzel Canning Company in Northwood, SPB Global LLC in Perrysburg, and Nextronex Inc. which operates out of incubator space at UT.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity to work with NASA about our technology. It’s good for the Northwest Ohio region,” said Susan Bernard, founder and director of business development for SPB Global.
SPB Global is a distribution company for the aerospace industry that is developing wearable technology and seeking a patent with aerospace applications, Bernard said.
NASA engineers will assist seven additional companies with on-site visits or teleconferencing to include Akadeum Life Sciences of Ann Arbor, Ann Arbor Aircraft of Adrian, AV3 Limited of Columbus, Mennel Milling Company of Fostoria, Plastic Technologies Inc. of Holland, Rowmark LLC of Findlay and SFC Graphics of Toledo.
“NASA can help move these businesses forward by providing its technical expertise,” said Keith Burwell, CEO of the Toledo Community Foundation, which cultivated a relationship with NASA which led to these opportunities.
Jim Garrett, CEO of Vadxx Energy in Cleveland, spoke about how NASA contributed engineering expertise for a simulation of a kiln process to recycle plastic waste into energy products. Rockwell Automation was a strategic partner with Vadxx on the design and engineering of the kiln process.
Garrett said that telling venture capital sources that they were working with NASA produced both unexpected and unintended results that led to increased investments in their company.
In addition to the Toledo Community Foundation, other organizers of the event included Lucas County Economic Development Corp, Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network, Northwest Ohio Manufacturing Expansion Partnership, Ohio Development Services Agency, Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce, UT Innovation Enterprises, and UT LaunchPad Incubation Program.
“Bringing the Roadshow to Toledo is the result of strategic relationship building by UT and regional partners. We hope for outcomes like this event to bolster economic development and job creation in the region,” said Jessica Sattler, director for economic engagement and business development programs. She also oversees the LaunchPad Incubation Program.
Burwell hosted the event and introduced the speakers. Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur addressed the event on video. Lucas County Commissioner Carol Contrada thanked NASA for its contributions to the county. Toledo Mayor D. Michael Collins was scheduled to speak at the event but was unable to attend due to city business, Burwell reported.
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