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OSU staff members develop lightning fast pitches at Startup Snapshot event

Ten Ohio State University faculty members got their speed-dating chops on earlier this spring, but not the sort that should worry their significant others.

First came the warm-up: each gave three-minute presentations on their start-up ideas to more than 60 Columbus-area CEOs and entrepreneurs from a range of fields. The occasion was the first Startup Snapshot event, sponsored by the university’s Technology Commercialization and Knowledge Transfer Office (TCO).
 
“The purpose of the event was to showcase our potential startups to CEOs and entrepreneurs, with the intention of procuring business leads and CEOs for them,” explains Brian Cummings, TCO vice president. In addition to the faculty members, one senior economics student also pitched his idea.
 
“We selected a diverse set of technologies at various stages of development to convey the extensive breadth of research, innovation and technology we have,” Cummings says. “Many people are surprised to find that we’re doing work in a specific area. This enabled them to really get a feel for all of the exciting things we have happening right now.”
 
Ten-minute round-robin “speed dating” sessions followed the lightning-fast pitches.
 
“Presenting at Startup Snapshot forced me to distill my idea down into its basic elements, yet allowed for in-depth conversation, too,” says faculty member Jane Wright, curriculum manager for Ohio State Extension. “It was the whole elevator approach but with the added luxury of immediate follow up.” Wright pitched her idea for Total Animal, a technology platform and interactive learning system that teaches and tests users on knowledge of livestock and companion animals in a fun and engaging software application.
 
According to Cummings, the event was a great success. “The engagement from our researchers and the community was more than we could have hoped for,” he notes. “The event resulted in the scheduling of 25 follow-up meetings, 15 new mentors agreed to become a part of TCO’s expanding mentor network and multiple companies are projected to launch.”
 
Another Startup Snapshot event is slated for this fall.
 
 
Source:  Brian Cummings, OSU
Writer:  Lynne Meyer

STEM scholars receive $4.5 million in awards at 65th annual state science day

Nearly 1,300 Ohio science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) students grades 5 through 12 received awards totaling $4.5 million at the 65th annual State Science Day, an event likened to a state championship game in athletics for education.
 
Launched in 1949, the Ohio State University-based State Science Day offers students across the Buckeye state the opportunity to showcase their talents to a panel of 1,000 judges for a variety of awards. This year’s largest donor was Ohio Wesleyan University, offering scholarships between $15,000 and $20,000.
 
Describing the event as a “blur,” Dr. Lynn Elfner, CEO at the Ohio Academy of Science, paints a picture of intense student interaction with judges. “You don’t have time to breathe,” says Elfner. “It goes really fast.”
 
Elfner touts the event’s diversity. “There were 1,300 students from 71 different counties,” he says. “It’s one of those equal opportunities for students all over the state. If they do good work, they have the opportunity regardless of their economic background to attend State Science Day.”
 
Perhaps more exciting for students is the opportunity to join an elite alumni class. Discussing some standouts of previous State Science Days, Elfner notes the inventor of the Fuzzbuster, Dale Smith, attended the annual event “many, many years ago.”
 
“The one who is most prominent is Dave Roberts,” says Elfner. “Dave had a project about 25 years ago concerning the design of ship hulls.” Today, Commanding Officer Roberts is teaching cadets how to drive submarines at the Naval Submarine School.
 
 
Source: Dr. Lynn E. Elfner
Writer: Joe Baur

techcolumbus funds revolutionary solar cell technology at ohio state university

Engineer Waseem Roshen is working toward a breakthrough in solar cell technology efficiency.
 
Roshen, founder and director of SS Power Technology, says he has found a way to increase the efficiency of solar-power cells by implementing a circuit board he invented that reduces the power lost in transit between the surface of the solar cell and the battery.
 
“Currently about 20 percent of the sunlight falling on a solar cell is converted into electrical power inside the solar sell,” explains Roshen. “This generated electricity is sufficient to run most electrical devises that need electricity to run; however, only a small fraction of the electric power generated in the solar cell can be extracted out of the solar cell and delivered to a device under almost all conditions of operation of the device.” The rest of the electrical power is lost.
 
Roshen is currently raising money on top of a $50,000 grant from TechColumbus to continue his research. “A portion of these funds are being used to develop prototypes and to test Dr. Roshen’s patent pending innovative circuit design at OSU’s College of Engineering,” says Gary Rawlings, Director of Technology Commercialization at TechColumbus. “The first series of data has shown performance improvements greatly exceeding expectations.”
 
If successful, Roshen says the consumer will see a large drop in the cost per watt of solar energy, as well as a large number of new electrical devices – like mobile electrical devices -- that can be run on solar power. “All of this should lead to less reliance on fossil fuel, such as coal, gas and oil, thus helping clean the environment.”
 
 
Source: Waseem Roshen, Gary Rawlings
Writer: Joe Baur

Ground-up film technology gives Entrotech ground-up solutions for variety of industries

Advanced materials manufacturer entrotech has built a strong and thriving business doing something few others do, says President and CEO Jim McGuire: creating advanced materials solutions from concept to marketplace.

The company develops film-based materials used to create and improve products in the electronics, biomedical, transportation and aerospace industries. Unlike many larger advanced materials companies, entrotech takes these solutions from the research and development stage to marketing and manufacturing. The company's chemistry-based approached allows it to innovate and meet real needs in the industry in a cost-effective way, McGuire says.

McGuire, an Ohio State University grad with a background in chemistry, founded entrotech to fill a need in the advanced materials market.

"I felt there was need for a chemistry-based advance materials company. Very few people create their own solutions from the ground up," McGuire says.

The company develops, manufactures and sells its own branded products and sometimes works with other companies to get products to market.

Among companies that have used entrotech's materials are Avery Dennison, Medline, Hewlett Packard, Western Digital, Dell, Microsoft, Gillette, Jaguar, Daimler Benz and Honda.

The Columbus-based company employees 90 people – and recently hired three employees -- with offices in Ohio, Southern California, San Francisco and Singapore, Malaysia. About 40 percent of those employees work in Ohio, he says.

The company got its start at OSU's Business Technology Center before moving to nearby office space in Columbus. It was founded through a mix of angel investment and self-funding, but has received some state support. Last year the company received $2 million from Ohio Research and Development Investment Loan Fund to purchase equipment that allows it to expand its research and development capabilities.

Source: Jim McGuire, entrotech
Writer: Feoshia Henderson

Visualizations could give wheelchair bound students ability to explore caves

Imagine pursuing a degree that requires you to understand caves, mines or other rugged geological formations. Now imagine trying to do your field studies in a wheelchair.

Concerns like that may be rendered moot if virtual technology being developed at Ohio State University and Georgia State University bear fruit.

The two institutions, tapping the power of the Ohio Supercomputer Center, are in the early stages of a study to show whether a virtual environment can be built that is powerful enough to give students and others with disabilities the virtual field experience they need to enter the geosciences in increased numbers.

Financed with a $202,744 grant from the National Science Foundation’s Opportunities for Enhancing Diversity in the Geosciences Program, the two universities are in the first year of a two-year project to bring such a vision to life.

“The idea is that, because of their disability, it’s difficult for them to go out into the field,” says Don Stredney, OSC senior research scientist for biomedical applications and director of the center’s interface laboratory. “We looked at how we can use simulation and virtual technologies to emulate what it would be like to go there, and whether you could teach principles that you’re trying to convey about aspects of geosciences by doing it through a virtual environment.”

The project follows a $39,980 OEDG planning grant last year to design the research. Christopher Atchison, a former graduate research assistant at OSC and now part of the team as an assistant professor of geosciences education at Georgia State, received a separate $10,480 grant to cover involvement of students with mobility impairments during the planning grant work.

The team will use structural data obtained from the Cave Research Foundation and high-precision data collected by laser remote-sensing technology and high-resolution digital photography to build a virtual environment that mimics a typical field outing.  Later in the project, students will be placed in the various environments to test their effectiveness as a field learning tool.

A successful project might open up doors not just for those with physical disabilities, but for a wide range of people studying about and working in geosciences – or other fields. The oil and gas industry might be able to benefit from virtual technologies, Stredney says, as well mining personnel who need to know the structure of a place without going there in person.

“I don’t see any limits whatsoever.”

Source: Don Stredney, the Ohio Supercomputer Center, and OSC Communications
Writer: Gene Monteith

After 20 years, OSUís Center for Automotive Resarch leads way in transportation technology

The Ohio State University Center for Automotive Research celebrates its 20th anniversary this week with a day-long seminar and celebration that will culminate in the unveiling of  blueprints for CAR’s expansion -- and the center’s roadmap for the next 20 years.

It's been a long, fruitful journey so far.

“We’ve grown from (virtually) nothing to a $7-million operation, and we expect to keep growing,” says David Emerling, industry collaboration director for the program.

CAR, an interdisciplinary research center within OSU’s College of Engineering, was founded 20 years ago with funds raised by OSU’s managing interest in the Transportation Research Center in Marysville (TRC Inc. is owned by Honda, which chartered the university to run the operation).

By the mid-90s, CAR had its own campus facility and today, its 35,000 square-foot digs house engine and vehicle dynamometers; acoustics labs, intelligent and autonomous vehicle laboratories; combustion research facilities; hybrid-electric propulsion, fuel cell and electrochemical energy storage facilities.

 “In our last ten years we’ve been very entrenched in battery research,” Emerling says. Leading the electric-race car pack since the 1990s, CAR’s engineering team set the 2010 land-speed record with the Venturi “Buckeye Bullet,”  the first fuel-cell vehicle to reach 300 mph.

The architectural studies to be unveiled at Friday’s ceremony are the initial steps in CAR’s expansion from a research center within the College of Engineering to the larger Transportation Research Institute of Ohio.
“We focus ourselves on all ground transportation, not just automotive,” says Emerling. With financial support from a $3-million Ohio Third Frontier grant and continued partnerships within the transportation industry in both Central Ohio and abroad, CAR’s progressive research encompasses everything from electric cars to heavy trucks, advanced electric propulsion to alternative fuels.

OSU CAR’s 20th anniversary begins Friday with three professional development seminars, a classic and specialty car and motorcycle sShow (during which visitors can test student-built prototype vehicles), followed by the unveiling of CAR’s future plans.

Source: David Emerling, CAR
Writer: Kitty McConnell

OSU College of Medicine lands $1.4-million grant to study brown algae's burn-healing power

In the world of medical research, the simplest answers can come from the strangest places. In the case of bacterial infections that take place after major burns, the answer may very well come from the sea.

Researchers at the Ohio State University College of Medicine, working with researchers in Norway, have landed a $1.4-million defense department grant to study the use of sea-produced brown algae and kelp to fight infections common to burns.

"The grant comes from the Department of Defense because of soldiers who suffer major burns in Afghanistan or Iraq," explains Dr. Chandan Sen, professor and vice chairman of research at OSUMC's Department of Surgery and one of the study's leaders. "Most of those burns get infected by bacteria like pseudomonas that thrive in desert areas. These bacteria form a biofilm, which defeats the kinds of antibiotics we typically use. They form a protective layer that antibiotics can't penetrate, and the infection gets worse. If you can't control the infection, ultimately it could lead to amputation or even death."

Though the genesis of the study was overseas casualties, the results of the study will have an impact worldwide. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, biofilms are linked to 60 percent of all chronic infections in the United States, even with its higher standard of health care. Pseudomonas itself was once responsible for more than half of all burn deaths in the U.S. Though that's no longer the case, the bacteria are living things, able to adapt. Over generations, they developed the ability to form the antibiotic-resistant biofilm.

The sea plants, Sen says, contain chemicals that have been shown to shut down the bacteria's ability to form that biofilm, once again making them vulnerable to common antibiotics.

"Once we can halt the production of the biofilm, we can kill the bacteria, and cure the infection," Sen points out. He doesn't find the answer to the biofilm problem odd, however.

"The fact of the matter is that bacteria are a part of nature and nature has its own way of controlling them," he says. Otherwise, bacteria would run rampant over the rest of the natural world.

"We humans can't produce the same chemicals, but nature has always had the answer," he says. "We're just looking to find a way to adapt nature's answer for use on humans."

The study, which has just begun and is expected to take a year to complete, includes researchers from OSU's Comprehensive Wound Care Center and the Dorothy M. Davis Heart and Lung Research Institute, along with their Norwegian colleagues.

Source: Dr. Chandan Sen, Ohio State University College of Medicine
Writer: Dave Malaska


Venturi Motors sets sights on electric car production within two years

The Buckeye Bullet attracted Venturi Automobiles to Ohio. But a perfect mix of conditions could keep it here and result in all-electric cars being produced in Columbus in the next two years.

Venturi, a Monaco-based company that builds electric vehicles, announced in January that it was establishing North American headquarters at TechColumbus, located on the Ohio State University campus. Since then, Venturi North America has been working through regulatory requirements for manufacturing cars here while continuing to partner with OSU engineering students and the university's Center for Automotive Research (CAR) on the experimental Buckeye Bullet, which has continually set land speed records (see our story in July 28 issue).

"A few years ago the owner of the company, Gildo Pastor, got involved in the Buckeye Bullet during the hydrogen run when it was using fuel cells," says John Pohill, an industry veteran and CEO of Venturi North America.

Pastor "fell in love with speed and became a donor to CAR and to the university," Pohill explains. "In their attempt for that speed record, they talked about what would be next, and Gildo, being an electric car manufacturer, said maybe we can go to electric, and that's exactly what happened. He became even more involved."

When Pastor decided to establish North American operations, Pohill says, "the perfect spot was Columbus because Ohio State was here, the Buckeye Bullet was here and a great deal of other activities relating to the electric car."

Venturi North America announced at the Detroit Auto Show in January that it would build its America automobile in Ohio. Pohill describes the America as a "buggy style vehicle. It's all electric, it's purpose-built in that it was not a change from another vehicle. The other discussion we had was whether to build it for the masses or to make it what Venturi is known for, which is a high-end performance car. We still haven't come to a final decision on that, but it looks more like it's going to be something that's not exorbitantly expensive, but it also won't be cheap."

Pohill expects to hire several employees in the next month to assist with such things as marketing, engineering, finance and dealer development.

"Eventually I want to hire a younger staff, bring some of the OSU students in, and really create a small car company somewhere from 70 to 100 people," Pohill says.

In the next year, Venturi will complete regulatory work and testing of the America to ready it for production, Pohill predicts. "Within two years we'll launch it and get it out on the highway," he says.

But stay tuned: Pohill says the company plans to unveil a brand new car at the next Detroit Auto Show. And, eventually, there might be an elecric motorcycle in the works.

Source: John Pohill, Ventui North America
Writer: Gene Monteith

OSU researchers mix old, new traditions in fight against brain cancer

New research from Ohio State University, a mix of Western medicine and Eastern herbal remedies, may finally give doctors a needed weapon in their fight against the most aggressive types of brain cancer.

In a study released on July 11, researchers at OSU's Comprehensive Cancer Center-Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute determined a compound family called indirubins stop brain tumor cells from spreading to other areas of the brain.

Indirubins, which are found in a common Chinese herbal remedy, not only stop glioblastoma cells from migrating, the substance also retards other cells that help tumors form new blood vessels and grow, according to the study.

"Breakthroughs are in the eye of the beholder," says Dr. E. Antonio Chiocca, one of the study's principal investigators, "but time will tell. The key issue is that most patients with these kinds of tumors die because the cancer cells infiltrate the entire brain. We think indirubins are the answer for stopping that infiltration."

Glioblastomas are the most common and most aggressive form of brain tumors, with about 18,5000 cases diagnosed annually. The initial tumor can be treated through medication, chemotherapy or surgery, but the migration of cancer cells to other parts of the brain lead to a high mortality rate. Almost 13,000 death per year are attributed to the cancer. The median length of survival after diagnosis is roughly 15 months.

"We have pretty good therapies to keep the original tumor at bay, but there's nothing we currently have to stop the migration of those cells," Chiocca explains. "Combined with current therapies, we think indirubins can make a real difference."

The study, which appears in the current issue of "Cancer Research," was funded by the Esther L. Dardinger Endowment for Neuro-oncology and Neurosciences, the National Cancer Institute, the Jeffrey Thomas Hayden Foundation and the American Brain Tumor Association. It began by examining several classes of substances for their effect on tumor growth in mice.

Now, Chiocca says, the challenge is to continue the research until indirubins can be used in humans. For that, they'll need FDA approval. Another hurdle: Since indirubins have already been described chemically by other scientists, it isn't patentable.

"Without the promise of a patent, companies won't be interested in developing it further," he continues. To continue their work, they'll have to find a chemical variant of the substance that can be patented, or petition the National Institute of Health for funding.

Source:  E. Antonio Chiocca, OSU's Dardinger Center for Neurooncology and Neurosciences
Writer: Dave Malaska


Engineering students start work on new generation of Buckeye Bullet

A team of Ohio State University engineering students has begun work on a new generation of electric car designed to push land speeds to at least 400 mph.

The team recently began aerodynamic simulations for the Buckeye Bullet 3, the successor to previous Buckeye Bullets that set electric vehicle land speed records. The team expects to complete the design process by the end of this summer, spend next academic year building and testing the vehicle and finally running it full-out at Utah's Bonneville Salt Flats in fall of 2012.

The latest Buckeye Bullet represents a complete makeover from the Buckeye Bullet 2.5 -- which last year set an international electric vehicle record at 307 mph, says Carey Bork, a graduate student in mechanical engineering and the project's chief engineer.

"The Buckeye Bullet 2.5 that we actually set the record with last year was really a test vehicle," Bork says. "The intent has always been to build a brand new land speed record car from the gorund up. And really the difference between them is that the Buckeye Bullet 1 used nickel-metal hydride batteries, and the BB2.5 -- and also the new one that we're going to be building -- will use lithium ion."

Giorgio Rizzoni, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and director of OSU's Center for Automotive Research, says another big difference is that the Buckeye Bullet 3 will run with the assistance of "really high performance, high tech electric motors that are being custom designed and fabricated by Venturi (North America, a project partner). And in addition to that it's a brand new chassis."

The challenges of increasing speeds from the 300 mph to 400 mph range are too numerous to list, Bork says. But one challenge is that testing using wind tunnels or trial runs on Ohio tracks fall short.

"We never get to run these cars full speed until we get them out to the salt flats," Bork says. Additionally, when testing in wind tunnels "you have to have what's called a rolling road in which the surface that the vehicle is sitting on is rolling. That has a very important effect on aerodynamics. But there's no rolling road wind tunnel that can reach those speeds."

That's why the team is using the Ohio Supercomputer Center to run computational fluid dynamics to design and optimize the car, he says.

While the goal of the project is to set new land speed records for an electric car (while giving engineering students the kind of experience they would get nowhere else) it's possible that the Buckeye Bullet 3 -- if all goes as planned -- could break all land speed records for a wheel-driven vehicle.

"We don't want to go out there and guarantee that," Bork says. "It's a huge jump to go from 300 mph to challenging the all-out wheel-driven record. But, basically, that's not far away, and that's something we're keeping our eyes on."

Sources: Carey Bork and Giorgio Rizzoni, Ohio State University
Author: Gene Monteith

Make millions. Change the World. Wear Jeans.

Who wouldn't want to: Make Millions. Change the World. Wear Jeans? 

That's the motto of The Ohio State University's Business Builders Club, or BBC, a 10-year-old student-run group that promotes the entrepreneurial mindset to all interested students -- not just business majors. And 150 student members (many of whom already operate their own businesses or plan to) from varied backgrounds are proving the theory.

So, what can you do at a weekly BBC meeting?

- Take the floor for 60 seconds to pitch an idea or opportunity for collaboration on a new business venture.
- Embrace your inner nerd in an E-Ship Ed teaching moment to learn a basic business skill.
- Steal great ideas and laugh at the early failures of the weekly guest speaker.
- Critique each meeting component with your peers over pizza and cold beverages at a local tavern.

All of which will prepare you to enter one of the annual IdeaPitch Competitions and pursuade a panel of judges that you deserve their money and guidance.

As for the "Changing the World," part, incoming BBC President, Carol Walden says," the club's Alleviating Poverty Through Entrepreneurship Summit had over 1,000 people in attendance. The summit works every year to bring entrepreneurs from all around the country and globe to one place to talk about the social issues they are looking to resolve through innovative initiatives."

Ben Gilbert, a 21-year-old OSU senior and co-founder of Functional Delights, maker of Seize the Day (an app that has been downloaded by nearly 300,000 iPhone users) says he was heavily influenced by the Business Builders Club.

"We raised about 50 grand this year from the community. While most of those funds supported the summit, Gilbert notes, "We (also) funded a whole bunch of student businesses and gave away nine grand to businesses like mine. It's a pretty neat thing to be a part of."

Source: Carol Walden and Ben Gilbert, OSU Business Builder's Club
Writer: Dana Griffith


New Third Frontier-OSU partnership to give young entrepreneurs a head start

A pilot program launched by the Ohio Third Frontier and the Fisher College of Business at Ohio State University represents a new way to help young technology entrepreneurs get their feet on the ground in Ohio.

Modeled after nationally renowned accelerators like Y Combinator and TechStars, Ohio's New Entrepreneur Fund (ONE Fund) will award $20,000 each to 10 entrepreneurial teams as part of the pilot's first round. The funds will support business and living expenses during an 11-week period in which participants receive guidance from mentors, industry experts, seasoned entrepreneurs and investors.

Teams will compete for selection to the program, which begins June 13 and ends Sept. 1. During that time, participants will prepare concepts and business models, which they will ultimately present to investors. ONE Fund participants must reside in Ohio for the duration of the program and any resulting company must be formed in Ohio.

"We're industry agnostic," says Ben Lagemann, risk capital program manager for the Ohio Department of Development. "Information technology is likely to have a strong presence, but this is not specific to any industry or technology base. Really, we're focusing on entrepreneurship, which is a transferrable skill set between technologies, between industries."

The pilot will be coordinated through Fisher's new 10x technology accelerator, an arm of the college's Center for Entrepreneurship. Lagemann says OSU was chosen as a partner because of its proximity to government offices in Columbus, the capabilities of the Center for Entrepreneurship and the expertise of center director Michael Camp.

"Dr. Camp was able to provide a turnkey solution for us in a very, very short period of time. No one else had those resources, capabilities or stature in the state," Lagemann says.

Camp describes the partnership as "a rare connect between a state funding the teams and the university training the teams." He says the ONE Fund pilot represents the kickoff of the 10x accelerator.

Norman Chagnon, executive director of the Third Frontier Commission, says $425,000 has been made available for startup costs and two pilot rounds representing up to 20 teams. Meanwhile, Columbus venture capital firm NCT Ventures has guaranteed that one team graduating from the first round will receive $200,000 in follow-on funding.

Applications for the first round are due April 24. Those interested can apply here.

Sources: Ben Lagemann, ODOD; Norman Chagnon, Third Frontier Commission; Michael Camp, OSU
Writer: Gene Monteith

OSU prof working on nerve gas drug in partnership with Ohio Supercomputer Center

Christopher Hadad, a chemistry professor at The Ohio State University, is developing a drug that could ease the effects of a frightening world threat: a deadly chemical nerve agent attack.

Such an event is rare, but not just theoretical. One of the most memorable is a 1995 sarin gas release on Japanese subway lines that killed a dozen people and sent more than 6,000 to hospitals. These poisons can be released deliberately or by accident and have the potential to kill and severely injure thousands of unsuspecting people.

Hadad is working on a therapeutic remedy to the effects of certain nerve agents which, left untreated, cause uncontrolled secretions from the mouth, eyes and nose as well as severe muscle spasms that could lead to a quick death. This work, which is its early stages, is in partnership with the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland.

"We are developing a therapeutic for someone who's been exposed to a nasty chemical agent that creates biological aging effects that could lead to death," says Hadad, who has been working on the project for about a year.

Hadad's work relates to common organophosphorus (OP) nerve agents Tabun, VX, VR, Sarin, Soman, Cyclosarin and Paraoxon. There are treatments that can be used for these agents today, but they don't always work because of the short time frame required for effective treatment.

Using the Ohio Supercomputer Center resources in Columbus, Hadad is working on a molecular fix that could make treatment more effective.

"We are using a computational chemistry approach which could lead to rapid development of a good, viable drug that has the best chance of success and efficacy," he said.

Source: Christopher Hadad, Ohio State University
Writer: Feoshia Henderson

You can follow Feoshia on Twitter @feoshiawrites


Ag incubator helps entrepreneurs grow

"This is so yummy you ought to sell it" has warmed many a home cook's heart. And for more than 10 years, Ohioans with recipes and dreams have been using the Northwest Ohio Cooperative Kitchen in Bowling Green to launch their businesses.

NOCK was established by the Agricultural Incubator Foundation as a place where regional residents can access a professional-grade facility. A catering kitchen opened first, followed by a cannery in 2005 and blanching/freezing space in 2010. Many jars of barbecue sauce, boxes of chocolates and so on have rolled out of NOCK's doors over the years.

Early "graduates" have been so successful their products were sold at major retailers and at numerous regional markets. Today, 27 entrepreneurs are renting the NOCK resources for production, says manager Paula Ray.

Requirements include a deposit fee, insurance, a business plan and approval of the Agricultural Incubator Foundation board of trustees. Once approved, tenants must sign a lease, participate in an orientation and training program and agree to schedule their time.

The non-profit Foundation was formed by a group of Ohio farmers, people involved in agribusiness, educators and researchers to nurture "the development, advancement and appreciation of agricultural systems in Northwest Ohio that are economically, ecologically and socially sustainable," it states on its website.

Besides NOCK, the Foundation makes available meeting space, organic farmland, greenhouses, and a fish farm. Bowling Green State University, the Ohio State University Extension, and the Toledo-based Center for Innovative Food Technology are among Foundation supporters.

Source: Paula Ray, Agricultural Incubator Foundation/NOCK
Writer: Gabriella Jacobs

U of Toledo, Dow Corning, await word on $46-million solar development grant

Ohio's status as a leader in photovoltaics could shine brighter should a $46 million US Department of Energy grant come through.

The $46 million grant, expected to be announced by early 2011, would be shared between the University of Toledo and Dow Corning Corp. Earlier this year, two paired to form the Solar Valley Research Enterprise (SVRE), which submitted the grant application to the DOE with wide support from the two states' governors, Congressional rosters and private industry.

The grant would be part of $125 million in funds available though the DOE's Photovoltaics Manufacturing Initiative, which seeks to establish three national centers of expertise in the field by 2015.

Split evenly between the SVRE partners, half of the funds would be used to establish the Photovoltaics Manufacturing Initiative Center on the Toledo campus, separate from the Wright Center for Photovoltaics Innovation and Commercialization based there, but working in conjunction with it.

The Wright Center was created in 2007 and supports research and test locations located at the University of Toledo, Ohio State University and Bowling Green State University.

"I tell people the SVRE would be like the Wright Center on steroids," says Rick Stansley, co-director of the Wright Center and chairman of the UT Board of Trustees.

He estimates a direct impact of 800 jobs added to the area, and an indirect impact six or seven times as large.

The partnership has already received grants from both Ohio and Michigan, including a $3.5 million grant from Ohio Third Frontier. Along with the Ohio "node" of the SVRE, Stansley said the grant money would be used to set up a similar center in Midland, Mich., near the corporate headquarters of Dow.

Both sites would work with a cluster of private companies, government labs and universities to further solar cell development, making it more competitive with traditional energy sources. The centers would also help guide new solar panel start-ups in the northwest Ohio-southern Michigan area.

Source: Rick Stansley, Wright Center for Photovoltaics
Writer: Dave Malaska

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