Six Northeast Ohio Technology Centers Receive $1M for Commercialization Projects

Nov 14, 2006, 00:00 ET from NorTech

    CLEVELAND, Nov. 14 /PRNewswire/ -- NorTech, Northeast Ohio's leading
 technology based economic development organization, today announced the
 distribution of $1 million to support the commercialization of six projects
 from the Technology Leaders' Group. The projects are being funded by a
 grant awarded earlier this year from the Fund for Our Economic Future, a
 collaboration of 80 philanthropic organizations across Northeast Ohio
 formed to assist in transforming the region's economy.
     Members of the Technology Leaders' Group are from NorTech, Wright
 Projects and Wright Centers of Innovation throughout the region,
 early-stage venture funders, the Biomedical Research and Technology
 Transfer programs throughout Northeast Ohio, and the technology transfer
 offices of related healthcare institutions and universities (Case Western
 Reserve University, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland State University, Kent
 State University, the Ohio Agriculture Research and Development Center and
 University of Akron). NorTech, whose central mission is to align and
 leverage the region's technology assets to build a more globally
 competitive economy in Northeast Ohio, has provided leadership and
 oversight to the collaboration since June of 2005.
     Technology projects selected for funding include:
      - Imaging Transplants for Stroke Therapies  - $310,000 was awarded to
        support a 4-way collaboration among the National Center for Stem Cells
        and Regenerative Medicine, the Case Center for Imaging Research, and
        local start-up companies Arteriocyte and Athersys to develop methods
        for improving stroke therapies.
      - Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD)  - AMD is the leading cause of
        blindness in elderly Americans. $150,000 was awarded to the Cleveland
        Clinic to support business development and executive recruitment for up
        to 4 company spin-offs that will develop more effective diagnostics,
        therapeutics and animal models for AMD. The Cleveland Clinic has
        pledged to match award funds.
      - Prototype Development and Company Attraction-The FlexMatters Initiative
        was awarded $200,000 to support collaborative prototype development of
        flexible displays and electrically adjustable lenses, while also
        attracting companies to the region. (*This grant is a follow-on
        investment to the $150,000 already given to establish the FlexMatters
        Initiative by the Fund For Our Economic Future in May 2006).  The new
        funding will support the development of new products. Project
        collaborators include Kent State University, University of Akron, the
        Center for Multifunctional Polymer Nanomaterials and Devices (CMPND),
        Kent Displays Inc., AlphaMicron, Inc. and others. FlexMatters is an
        initiative designed to build a new industrial cluster in Northeast
        Ohio, based on manufacturing emerging products on flexible plastic
        substrates, including displays, complex electronics and solar cells.
      - New Nanostructured Soft Materials for Biomedical and Commodity
        Applications - The Center for Multifunctional Polymer Nanomaterials and
        Devices (CMPND) and the University of Akron was awarded $150,000 to
        collaborate on a project to accelerate the commercialization of
        nanostructured materials and nanocomposites for biomedical and other
        commodity applications. This project will scale-up the synthesis of
        novel nanostructured rubbers based on new structures (dendritic) of
        polyisobutylene. The new polymers will be precursors for nanocomposites
        with carbon and silica nanoparticles. Several new applications with
        high growth potential will be evaluated.
      - Fuel Cell Prototyping  - $150,000 was awarded to the Wright Fuel Cell
        Group to build portable fuel cells created with Ohio-made products
        utilizing an Ohio workforce.  Collaborating organizations include Case,
        GrafTech, HydroGen, Contained Energy, Northeast Hydrogen and
        Chemsultants.  Because portable fuel cells are in particularly strong
        demand, this investment is expected to enable rapid growth of fuel cell
        product lines, companies, and workforce development.  This will enhance
        Ohio's status as a center for the industry, thereby attracting further
      - Agbioscience Cluster Commercialization - $40,000 was awarded to The
        Ohio Agriculture Research and Development Center (OARDC) to support
        funding for up to 5 early stage development projects, including
        improved animal feed, biomass to energy, and biomass conversion for
        chemical feedstocks.
     The Fund For Our Economic Future convened the Technology Leaders' in
 early 2005 to explore how Northeast Ohio could build critical mass in
 several distinctive technology areas, build economy-sustaining industries
 and leverage Third Frontier investments. In February 2006, the Fund
 announced its financial commitment to the Technology Leaders' Group to
 accelerate development and application of Northeast Ohio's most promising
 technologies. Since that time, the Technology Leaders' Group developed,
 evaluated, and selected six of what they believe to be the most innovative
 and collaborative technology commercialization projects to help build
 businesses and industries of the future in Northeast Ohio.
     The technology centers represented in the collaboration have been
 identified as some of the most distinctive and promising areas for
 Northeast Ohio's future, including polymers and nanotechnology; the
 genetics of colon cancer; liquid crystal displays; neurostimulation/
 neuromodulation; stem cells and preventive medicine (using adult-derived
 stem cells); biomedical imaging; fuel cells; agbiosciences; atrial
 fibrillation/cardiac health; nanomedicine; tissue engineering; age-related
 macular degeneration, and instruments/controls/electronics.
     "The Technology Leaders' Group has exceeded our initial expectations
 and allowed us to gain a better appreciation for the type of early-stage
 funding needed to move Third Frontier investments toward commercialization
 at the very earliest stages of imagining their market potential. These
 projects have also laid the foundation for thinking beyond creating one
 company at a time to creating new, economy-sustaining industries for our
 region's future," said Dorothy Baunach, President and Chief Executive
 Officer of NorTech.
     "The Fund for Our Economic Future is pleased to support these projects,
 in an effort to spur innovation and economic growth in Northeast Ohio. The
 Fund believes these projects highlight some of the most promising
 technological advancements in the region and we look forward to seeing them
 develop into real economic opportunities, with our support," said Brad
 Whitehead, President of the Fund For Our Economic Future and Senior Program
 Officer for Economic Development Initiatives at the Cleveland Foundation.
     About NorTech:
     NorTech's technology and business leaders are strategic drivers of the
 region's technology-based economic development agenda. The organization
 work's to align and leverage regional technology assets to build a globally
 competitive technology economy in Northeast Ohio. NorTech promotes
 research, innovation, entrepreneurship and technology industry growth
 throughout the region for the benefit of all citizens.
     About the Fund For Our Economic Future:
     The Fund for Our Economic Future is an unprecedented collaboration of
 more than 80 philanthropic organizations from across Northeast Ohio. Its
 goal is to encourage and advance an agenda for regional economic
 transformation using a three-tiered approach: grant making, public
 engagement and ongoing research to measure economic progress throughout the
 region. Since launching in February 2004, the Fund has deployed more than
 $35 million and has granted more than $20 million to support economic
 development initiatives to further its objectives. The Fund's Web site is
     For more information, contact:
     Kelly Coolbaugh                Heidi Modarelli-Frank
     NorTech                        Marcus Thomas LLC
     216-241-8458                   216-514-4569