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ohio supercomputer center's new system souped up and ready to go

There's a reason why Ohio Supercomputer Center's new $4.1 million,  HP Intel Xeon, processor based system has been dubbed the Oakley Cluster. Like the legendary Ohio-born sharpshooter and social advocate Annie Oakley, it's fast as hell, doesn't miss a shot and is improving the lives of Ohioans.

Just ask Ashok Krishnamurthy, Executive Director of the OSC, a facility that is funded by the Ohio Board of Regents and has been in existence since 1987. "We have more than 2,000 academic users across the state, and they're discovering new materials and developing advanced energy applications," he says. "To be competitive, we must provide the highest performance system, and this represents a new level of capability."

OSC's new supercomputer can achieve 88 teraflops, which is tech speak for 88 trillion calculations per second. Yes, in case you're wondering, that's lightning fast.

OSC's new system will help to achieve its mission of assisting academic and business users. Large companies such as Proctor and Gamble and Rolls Royce use OSC as a "second level system when they have needs beyond what their systems can support," says Krishnamurthy. OSC helps small and midsize companies develop and test prototypes virtually rather than investing in actual models, while academics use the system to complete their cutting-edge research.

"We give them access to software and expertise," says Krishnamurthy. "Once they understand the value of what this can do, it changes how they do business."

As one example, Krishnamurthy cites an Ohio company that is developing an LED projector small enough to fit inside a phone. How do they convince various manufacturers that their device can handle the projector's heat without testing every single one? That's where OSC's computer modeling comes in.

"You can simulate how the heat is dissipated," he says. "It's an easy, low-cost way to show potential customers how your design can be incorporated into their products."

OSC has also helped to develop courses for students at community colleges and four-year colleges and universities, as well as professionals who are seeking continuing education. "OSC is in a fairly unique position," says Krishnamurthy. "It is the most consistently state-funded center of its kind in the country."

Source: Ashok Krishnamurthy
Writer: Lee Chilcote

VasoStar helping surgeons "tap" through deadly occlusions

The manual “tapping” of surgeons, intent on breaking through life-threatening occlusions, could soon be replaced by vibrating tip guidewires, says Stephanie Harrington, chief operating officer of VasoStar Inc. The company, a subsidiary of Frantz Medical Group in Mentor, is collaborating with Cleveland Clinic and Interplex Medical LLC of Milford, on the plaque-busting technology.

The company was formed in 2007 to “develop technology invented in Israel and brought to us through one of our clinician colleagues at Stanford University,” says Harrington. The vibrating guidewires let cardiologists open up totally blocked arteries much faster than the current manual method.

Lesions that have been there for some time, called chronic total occlusions, become calcified and very difficult to penetrate with a tiny guidewire only .014 in. diameter. Currently, the clinician is about 300 cm away from the lesion, outside of the patient’s leg, gently tapping to force the guidewire through the calcified surface.

“What we’ve done is increase the speed of the tapping and move that tapping source up near the point of the lesion,” says Harrington. The power source, a tiny electromagnetic engine, creates a high-frequency vibration. “This will allow patients with CTOs to be treated with interventional techniques versus invasive bypass surgery.”

The Ohio Third Frontier Commission, which supports the commercialization of products in the biomedical, medical imaging and sensors industries, recently awarded VasoStar $1 million to help develop the technology, which is still in the product-development stage. Harrington said clinical trials should start in about 18 months. The company employs four “fulltime equivalents” on loan from Frantz Medical and Harrington expects to add 12 to 15 positions over the next two years.  

Source: Stephanie A. S. Harrington, Frantz Medical Development Ltd.
Writer: Patrick G. Mahoney

Pressco's inspection technology gives manufacturers faster accept-reject info

Founded in the 1960s as a machine tool distributorship, Pressco Technology Inc. has come a long way.

"In the mid-80s we were contracted by Crown Cork & Seal to develop machine vision for one of their end-making plants. Today, we are a high-speed, online vision- and sensor-based company for high-speed manufacturers in the U.S. and abroad," says Fritz Awig; VP engineering and operations.

Pressco supplies turnkey high-speed vision inspection systems to the food and beverage industry, aluminum extrusion manufacturing, and the postal sorting sector. By continuously investing in new technologies, the Cleveland company is well positioned to provide vision-inspection equipment as well as intelligent process-control products.

"Pressco's main product is a modular platform of electronics and software to which we can attach a variety of sensors, whether they're vision-based, camera-based, with analog or digital sensors that read various information about the manufacture of a product," Awig says. "Our Intellispec [vision platform] system gathers that information, analyzes that information, makes 'accept' and 'reject' decisions, provides process-control information and feeds it into the high-speed plant network for collecting manufacturing and defect data."

To date, the company has shipped more than 5,000 turnkey systems to more than 60 countries. About 60 percent of its production is shipped overseas. The company employs between 140 and 150 people, with 10 jobs to be added this year.

Based on an adaptable, modular design, the platform's central processor can manage up to eight high-speed cameras spread across multiple lanes. Each inspection module is designed to withstand the rugged environment of a manufacturing facility. The lighting and optical components provide maximum performance for the desired inspection, and additional modules can be purchased as inspection needs grow and change.

Family-owned since 1966, Pressco has grown between 10 and 14 percent annually over the last six years. 

"As Don (Corcoran, the company's president) likes to say, 'No matter how good or bad the economy is, people are still going to eat and drink,'" says Awig.

Source: Fritz Awig, Pressco Technology Inc.
Writer: Patrick G. Mahoney

e-Cycle's rapid growth tied to stockpiles of outdated smart phones

When people ask who e-Cycle's biggest competitors are, the answer comes easily to Tonia Irion.

"The closet, the drawer or the warehouse," says Irion, e-Cycle's VP of marketing.

e-Cycle has risen quickly within the environmental industry by building its own niche recycling smart phones. While businesses (and individuals) are still likely to stash away their outdated devices, word is getting out that there's another option, Irion says.

Founded in 2005 by Irion and husband Chris (e-Cycle's president), the Hilliard firm buys up old wireless devices -- mainly phones, and primarily from businesses -- and either recycles them for parts (phones more than two years old) or wipes them of all data and resells them to overseas markets.

e-Cycle's services seem to have met a long-simmering need. The company's revenues rose to $3.5 million in 2009 over the previous year's $1 million, and Tonia Irion says the numbers for 2010 could be double that. The comapany counts 15 of the Fortune 20 companies as customers, as well as numerous small businesses and government.

Meanwhile, employment has risen from 29 employees at end of 2009 to 65 today, and e-Cycle wants to hire an additional 20 sales reps in the next three to four months.

That kind of growth placed e-Cycle 14th on the BusinessFirst Fast 50 list for central Ohio and ranked it 8th in its industry on the Inc. 500 fastest growing companies of 2010.

Irion says the growth is due partly to a good partnership with Verizon Wireless and partly to business practices that include investing in strong sales teams and "making sure every decision we're making is going to generate revenue for the company."

Source: Tonia Irion, e-Cycle
Writer: Gene Monteith

Grid Sentry testing new sensor to keep power lines flowing round the clock

A Dayton company is testing a new sensor that will help utilities in their quest to work smarter with technology that enables them to monitor power lines round the clock and keep energy flowing efficiently.

Tom McCann, president of Grid Sentry, says that the company's sensor products, Line Sentry and PQ Sentry, are attached to power lines and help a utility company to identify inefficiencies that might cause it to use secondary generation sources to meet peak demand loads.

Because the sensors can help reduce peak demand loads, they can help the utility save money and more quickly adapt to changing power needs, he says.

"We have talked with 25 utilities, and all but one said they were interested in our product," says McCann. "There are tremendous inefficiencies in the distribution grid. This helps them manage those so they can avoid using secondary generating capacity, which is expensive."

Peak demand for electricity is expected to grow by 19 percent in the next 10 years, he added. Capacity, however, is only expected to grow by six percent. Maximizing current capacity is essential, says McCann.

Grid Sentry was founded about a year ago to commercialize technology developed by Defense Research Associates of Dayton.

Prototypes of the products are now in use at Dayton Power & Light Company and are being planned for more major utilities. McCann says Grid Sentry is hoping to start wide scale sales of its products in the U.S. in May next year.

They currently have six employees and could hire as many as 40 more by the end of 2011, he says.

Source: Tom McCann, Grid Sentry
Writer: Val Prevish

GE Aviation announces UD site for new research facility

The University of Dayton is getting a new tenant.

GE Aviation announced Nov. 22 that it had chosen a site on River Park Drive for its new Electrical Power Integrated Systems Research and Development Center (EPISCENTER). The $51-million, 115,000-sq.-ft facility is expected to be operational by late 2012 and attract an initial 10-15 jobs.

The facility will make GE Aviation an initial launch partner of the Ohio Hub of Innovation and Opportunity for Aerospace, assigned to the Dayton region in September 2009 by Gov. Ted Strickland.

Jennifer Villarreal, a company spokeswoman, says proximity to the University of Dayton Research Institute and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base -- as well as the Dayton region's designation an aerospace hub -- all contributed to GE Aviation's decision to locate the center on the UD campus. She says that in addition to benefiting the region's and state's economy, EPICSENTER will help GE Aviation attract new talent.

"It's an excellent catalyst for growth with new program and contracts," says Villarreal. "It's a great pipeline for talent from the University of Dayton as far as researchers, technologists, engineers and others, so that's really key to us as far as development and advancing electric power for all kinds of vehicles."

The facility will sit on eight acres and will focus on a number of markets, including electrical power starter/generation, conversion, distribution and load technologies for commercial and military aerospace applications. UD will partner with the CityWide Development Corp. to build the facility, whose construction should be completed by the third quarter of 2012. The Ohio Third Frontier has chipped in with a capital grant of up to $7.6 million.

Villarreal says it's difficult to predict job growth over time, but that some have estimated 100 to 200 "depending on future contracts and programs."

Source: Jennifer Villarreal, GE Aviation
Writer: Gene Monteith

Avtron plans to add sensors jobs behind Third Frontier award

Avtron Industrial Automation, with roots in aerospace testing equipment, is flying a little closer to the ground these days. With some help from Ohio's Third Frontier, the company is developing encoders for use in wind turbines. The encoders sense position within 360 degrees.

Worldwide, Avtron has about 400 employees, 350 of which are in Cleveland. The remaining employees work in New Hampshire and Beijing. Spurred by the $1-million Third Frontier award, Kosnik says the company plans to add another 30 jobs by 2014.

The company makes drive systems, load banks, aerospace test equipment and incremental encoders for measuring speed and position in industrial control systems. Users of the encoders include heavy industry, the wind turbine industry, and offshore oil platforms. Overall, company sales have been strong, says Don Kosnik; Director R&D (Engineering), about doubling over the last three to five years.

Over one third of Avtron's staff are technical personnel with four-year degrees or higher. Most have backgrounds in electrical and mechanical engineering, electronics or computers. Many of its product design engineers come from Avtron's Field Engineering Department.

Avtron Aerospace, Inc., Avtron Loadbank, Inc., and Avtron Industrial Automation, Inc. are part of Avtron Holdings, LLC. Their customers include 95 percent of the Fortune 500 and nearly every major airline in the world. The company has been in business since 1953. In 2007, Avtron was acquired by Morgenthaler Partners, LLC, a private equity company with assets under management of approximately $3 billion.

Source: Don Kosnik; Director R&D, Engineering
Writer: Patrick G. Mahoney

Northeast Ohio pushing hard to be global center of flexible electronics

Northeast Ohio is already a leader in flexible electronics. Now, a number of partners are working to make it the "global epicenter" of the industry.

The goal? To add 1,500 jobs, $75 million in payroll and $100 million in capital to Northeast Ohio by 2017.

Last week, NorTech -- a regional nonprofit economic development organization focused on high tech job growth -- announced a shared vision and action plan to speed growth of the industry in northeast Ohio.

The Northeast Ohio Flexible Electronics Roadmap outlines strategies and initiatives to build global market capabilities in the low-cost manufacturing of flexible electronics -- devices printed on flexible materials. Examples include liquid crystal devices and flexible sensors and circuits.

The Northeast Ohio Flexible Electronics Roadmap charts a path for identifying and pursuing market opportunities; increasing public funding and private investment; strengthening cluster alignment, communication, and partnering; monitoring and reporting cluster growth and impact; and improving visibility and recognition.

"Northeast Ohio's flexible electronics cluster is rooted in the world-renown, breakthrough work of The Liquid Crystal Institute at Kent State University, the globally recognized advances in polymer science by the University of Akron, as well as a growing number of small, medium and large companies that are producing flexible electronics applications," says Kelly South, NorTech's senior director of communications.

Nortech led development of the roadmapping process in partnership with 23 technology and industry experts representing research institutions, manufacturers, materials suppliers and product developers. The strategies will be executed over the next 12 months, South says, but added that the document will "serve as a living document that will capture technology shifts, changes in market dynamics and new growth opportunities in Northeast Ohio."

NorTech and other partners have branded the northeast Ohio flexible electronics cluster as FlexMatters.

Source: Kelly South, NorTech
Writer: Gene Monteith

YSI evolves with the times into global sensors player in outdoor water market

It started in the late 1940s when two entrepreneurial-minded engineers joined a chemist and formed Yellow Springs Instruments. The startup's first success was an innovative crystal clock, sold to the Air Force.

Today, the company is known simply as YSI, Inc. and is a global player, with 380 employees around the world and revenues of about $100 million. And while it has demonstrated expertise in a number of sensor applications over the years, it now focuses on the natural resource water market. In other words data collection for ponds, oceans, rivers and streams.

Gayle Rominger, YSI's executive VP, says that focus has been a successful strategy built on a solid foundation.

"(The founders) were tremendously successful, but we ended up being in several different markets," Rominger explains. "The temperature market, the biomedical market and the water market. And those were big markets. So it came to the point where if we were going to get to the next level we really needed to pick a market and develop a strategy to go after that market."

Toxic algae in your pond? YSI makes sensors that can measure oxygen and particles leading to algae blooms. Runoff from the Maumee River into Lake Erie? YSI can detect and measure the problem.

President and CEO Rick Omlor says demand for YSI products differ around the world. China has emerged as a prime source for YSI products, he says.

"While we care a lot about water quality, some areas of the world care about water velocity and water quantity," he explains. For example, some global customers are concerned about flooding, or water needed for hydro power or transportation.

Over the years, YSI has benefited from Ohio Third Frontier funds, including a $1.1 million award in April to YSI, Riehl Engineering and the University of Cincinnati to develop a new kind of sensor for measuring nitrates in water.

The company employs 130 at its Yellow Springs headquarters.

Sources: Rick Omlor and Gayle Rominger, YSI
Writer: Gene Monteith

Touch Bionics brings real-life functionality to amputees

Cursed to endure amputation after contracting meningitis as an infant, Patrick, 13, now is blessed to be bionic.

He has an amazingly functional prosthetic arm and hand made by Touch Bionics of Hilliard.

And he's not alone. Mechanical wizardry that seemed the stuff of sci-fi not long ago is helping thousands of people affected by medical conditions, industrial and agricultural accidents – even war veterans.

Touch Bionics develops advanced upper-limb prosthetics. Its flagship product us the i-LIMB Hand, which has five individually powered digits.

The company relocated from Scotland to the U.S. in 2009. The Hilliard site consists of about 11,000 square feet of space used for offices, fabrication and a clinic.

"…We started with about four employees (in Hilliard). Today, we currently have about 15. The office is composed of fabrication, clinical, customer service, marketing, finance, admin support, the reimbursement team, and A/P," says spokesman Lisa Prasad.

A New York site is used for the company's LIVINGSKIN division, acquired in 2008, which specializes in "aesthetic restoration solutions" – passive prosthetic devices designed to match exactly to a person's natural skin tone.

Touch Bionics began as a spinoff from the national health system in Scotland. It's many awards include "The Most Innovative Company of the Year in Europe".

Sources: Lisa Prasad and Linda Forrest, Touch Bionics
Writer: Gabriella Jacobs

New Woolpert venture takes 3-D to another level

3-D imaging has come a long way since the days of those funky paper eyeglasses in the movies. Today it's being used to design sophisticated software with applications for everything from mapping to gaming.

Dayton-based Woolpert has been developing new 3-D technology through its venture, i23D, and expects demand for 3-D modeling to increase significantly in the coming years.

Woolpert, a design, engineering and geospatial firm, started i23D last year in connection with the University of Dayton-led Institute for Development and Commercialization of Advanced Sensor Technology (IDCAST) and Tidex Systems Ltd., a Tel Aviv company that specializes in interactive video technology.

Tidex originally developed the software that allows a two dimensional video to be made into a 3-D video model using only a conventional video camera.

Although there are other methods that allow similar modeling, i23D's technology makes it much less expensive because you only need an ordinary video camera to complete the mapping, says Phipps. In much of the current technology lasers are used to create the map, a much more expensive method.

"Everything's going 3-D today," says Steve Phipps, president of i23D and a senior vice president at Woolpert in Dayton. "There are many different ways you can use it."

Phipps says that i23D is looking for additional funding to complete its research to fully develop the software. Once complete, he says the applications for its use will include markets in asset management, security and national defense where detailed 3-D mapping of building interiors or outdoor locations could be used to keep the public safe or just keep track of how space is used.

Another potential market is real time 3-D technology for use in autonomous navigation for vehicles, such as drone flight craft, says Phipps.

i23D has just two employees, but in the next year could hire as many as five new workers .

Source: Steve Phipps, i23D
Writer: Val Prevish

Tech Town infuses new life, new jobs, into old Dayton auto plant

Infusing new life into an obsolete auto factory campus, Dayton's 40-acre Tech Town technology park has become a hub for young start-up companies and big names in the aerospace industry who cluster in the region because of Wright Patterson Air Force Base and the research it attracts.

"It's quickly becoming a national center for sensing technology," says Larrell Walters, director of IDCAST (Institute for the Development and Commercialization of Advanced Sensor Technology), one of the first tenants in Tech Town.

IDCAST has created 280 jobs in its 42 months of operations, says Walters, and it has attracted many young companies to the area who are active in advanced sensing technology.

Another job and research magnet for Tech Town is the Dayton RFID Convergence Center, a radio-frequency identification incubator that has helped generate more than 50 new jobs since it opened a year ago, says Steve Nutt, vice president of CityWide Development Corp., which manages Dayton's development strategy.

"When they started they had applications from as far away as Australia and New Zealand," says Nutt of the RFID incubator. "Just one year after opening they have 12 new businesses located here."

Besides IDCAST and RFID, Tech Town is home to 29 companies, from two-person start-ups to big names like Boeing and General Dynamics. Eight universities are also among the tenants.

Tech Town gives them the ability to collaborate and provides ready access to the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright Patterson Air Force Base and the University of Dayton Research Institute, with roughly 700 full-time researchers.

Source: Larrell Walters, IDCAST, and Steve Nutt, CityWide Development Corp.
Writer: Val Prevish

Northeast Ohio sensors industry gets $17-million boost

The Dayton region may be known as Ohio's sensors corridor, but northeast Ohio's capabilities in sensor technology just got a boost -- and a big one at that.

Last week the Wright Center for Sensor Systems Engineering at Cleveland State University, allocating funds from the Ohio Third Frontier initiative, awarded six grants totaling more than $17 million to universities and other organizations for development and commercialization of sensors and sensor technologies.

The largest of the six grants -- 25 percent of which will be matched by recipients -- went to Lorain County Community College, which will receive $5.5 million to work with R.W. Beckett Corp., Acence and Greenfield Solar Corp., to create a center for sensor commercialization.

The Cleveland Clinic Foundation's Learner Research Institute will receive $2.67 million to lead establishment a new center for sensor and microdevices for biomedical applications, and the Austen BioInnovation Institute is getting $2.6 million to lead development of an advanced instrumentation platform for product development in biomedical areas.

Meanwhile, the Ohio State University is slated to receive $3 million to lead commercialization of terahertz sensors for applications such as medical imaging and homeland security, and the University of Akron will receive $1.66 million to lead commercialization of sensor technologies for clean energy products.

Youngstown State University will also receive $1.66 million, for a collaboration with the Youngstown Business Incubator and M-7 Technologies to create systems for next generation manufacturing and inspection systems.

Some recipients are already predicting new jobs due to the awards.

"Our principal commercial partner, M-7 technologies, is looking to hire an additional 70 employees over five years," says Julie Michael Smith, the Youngstown incubator's chief development officer. "That is the direct employment, and then of course there will hopefully be downstream employment by companies employing this technologies."

She says the grants are good for northeast Ohio and for the Youngstown area, where old-line industries like steel have been battered in recent years.

Sources: The Wright Center for Sensor Systems Engineering and Julie Michael Smith, Youngstown Business Incubator
Writer: Gene Monteith

GLIDE expanding behind $75,000 DOD grant

"The only reason we're here is to create jobs, create new enterprises, and hopefully become a center of excellence in the area of sensors," says Dennis Cocco, co-director of Great Lakes Innovation and Development Enterprise (GLIDE).

Thanks in no small part to a $75,000 Ohio Department of Development Edison Technology grant, the incubator on the campus of Lorain County Community College will be one step closer to becoming that "center of excellence" in the high-tech world of sensors. The money is being used to transform unused building space into labs suitable for sensor start-ups to perform prototype development work.

GLIDE already serves as an incubator for 20 on- and 40 off-site companies, offering a wide range of consulting and mentoring assistance such as preparing business plans and securing human and financial resources.

Long term plans to build more ambitious lab space that can handle harsh environmental testing will help GLIDE and Lorain County attract more sensor-based start-ups. Lorain County Community College also intends to build an educational program around the field to prepare students for work in that industry.

"We see a lot of need for companies in the sensor field," says Cocco. "The instrument, controls and sensor area is a technology that cuts across a lot of platforms, including biomedical, manufacturing, and transportation."

Source: Dennis Cocco, GLIDE
Writer: Douglas Trattner

KC Robotics provides machines for vast array of applications

What started out as the purchase of few reburbished robots has grown into an internationally known company that sells, programs and services robots needed for complex manufacturing work.

Ken Carrier, owner of KC Robotics, says that besides selling robots, the company programs them to weld, cut, assemble route and handle a variety of industrial and manufacturing tasks. KC Robotic's technicians can also install, repair and service the robots on site.

"I'll put my guys on a plane and fly them all over the country. We work nationally and internationally. Right now I have a crew in Washington State, and we spend a lot of time on the West Coast," Carrier said, of his Fairfield-based company.

Carrier started KC Robotics in 1989, after transitioning out of an electronics sales and repair job for a Detroit manufacturer.
"I started buying used robots and then I had an inventory of 150. One thing led to another," Carrier said.

Like many companies, the recession dealt KC Robotics a bit of an economic hit, but business has begun to pick up. The company lost a few workers in the last year, but Carrier said he plans to rehire several of them this year. He currently has 14 employees.

The company's customers include food industry suppliers, foundries and aerospace companies. Technicians do work in South America, Europe, Asia, Mexico, and Canada, as well as the U.S.

Source: Ken Carrier owner KC Robotics
Writer: Feoshia Henderson

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