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Akron Polymer rides growth, plans new $3-million building

Frank Harris, a professor emeritus of polymer science at the University of Akron, knows what it's like to be the bona fide poster child for the growing high-tech industry in Ohio. And he's OK with that.

He co-founded Akron Polymer Systems in 2005 (with Dr. Stephen Cheng, dean of the UA College of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering) and the company has enjoyed steady growth since.

The company now says it's within a year of taking its polymer product with uses in fuel cells, liquid-crystal displays and solar cells to the market.

APS has attracted the attention of several companies, including Lockheed Martin, Kent Displays and solar powerhouse Xunlight.
And to think the company was this close to leaving Ohio.

"We were approached by the state of South Carolina, but we stayed, primarily because of the Third Frontier," says Harris. "South Carolina could offer us some incentives, but they couldn't come anywhere close to the help that the Third Frontier could offer us." APS has received about $350,000 in direct funding from the state program for fuel cell technology, but through subcontracts it has also been awarded more than $2 million for several other projects.

Harris says another benefit is that the company has been able to match Third Frontier funding with industry funding, something he calls the "doubling effect."

There are currently a dozen people employed with APS, but Harris says once a product is on the market within a year, there could be more than 25 positions added. In more good news for the company, APS has been approved for a $1.25 million loan to build a new $3 million facility in downtown Akron.

Source: Frank Harris, Akron Polymer Systems
Writer: Colin McEwen
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