UC Research Institute is an independent nonprofit 501(c)(3), which will serve to connect UC experts to industry partners, facilitate commercialization of research and enhance cooperative and experiential learning experiences and opportunities for UC students interested in working with industry. It is supported through an annual $1 million grant from the university.
“The UC Research Institute will be a resource for all UC colleges and it will be open to all industry partnerships,” says William Ball, MD, UC’s interim vice president for research. “And we believe the work at UC Research Institute will reach back into the classroom and will ultimately grow our industrial research funding base, which will further support innovation at UC.”
The concept for UC Research Institute, put forward by the College of Engineering and Applied Science and its dean, Carlo Montemagno, PhD, was approved by the UC board in November 2010. It was formed out of a desire by industry leaders, like General Electric (GE) Aviation, to partner with the university and expedite discoveries and grow the local economy.
Ball says the formation of a research institute to promote industry partnerships has been a proven model at many universities, including the University of Wisconsin and Purdue University, which have greatly enhanced their ability to attract industry partners, enhance research and innovation and promote commercialization through faculty research partnerships with industry within an educational environment.
“The success of such a model has in large part been driven by the flexibility of such institutes to create a more efficient business model in working with industry and allow for a more mutual distribution of intellectual property rights between partners,” adds Ball.
With a business plan now in place, UC Research Institute’s implementation team will be established, as well as a nine-member Board of Directors who will finalize the description for the institute’s CEO position and begin that search process.
UC will have representation on the UC Research Institute board through four members, to be initially appointed by the UC Board of Trustees. The five remaining members will represent industry and the area’s business community.
UC President Gregory H. Williams will appoint an interim CEO for the institute until a permanent CEO has been named. It is expected that a CEO will be identified by the end of 2012, at which time the UC Research Institute Board of Directors will assume governance.
“With our cooperative education program over the past 100 years, UC has a long and successful history of cultivating deep relationships with employers and businesses,” says Williams. “Our hope with the UC Research Institute is to create similarly successful and intimate partnerships with corporations focused on research, innovation and commercialization.”
A number of projects within the UC Research Institute will be based at or near GE Aviation in Evendale, Ohio, with the institute’s leadership team based on UC’s campus.
The initial UC Research Institute project will focus on the development of next-generation jet engines in partnership with GE Aviation. This project is supported by a commitment from GE Aviation for $2 million annually for three years to support a $5 million award to UC from the Ohio Third Frontier Research and Development Center Attraction Program (RDCAP) intended for the purchase of research equipment.
“Teaming with GE Aviation and the Third Frontier commission, this action will create enhanced opportunities for our students and enable the emergence of new industries while supporting the global competitiveness of a world-leading, Ohio-based manufacturer, GE Aviation,” says Montemagno.
UC Research Institute will also be used to develop commercial centers, like the Criminal Justice Center, through which faculty in the UC College of Education, Criminal Justice and Human Services will provide services to local, regional and national law enforcement entities, cities and states.