NASA Roadshow to provide assistance to regional businesses

June 11, 2014 | Events, Research, UToday, Engineering
By Aimee Portala



The NASA Roadshow, an innovative approach to economic development and job creation, is coming to The University of Toledo to assist and advise a number of regional businesses.

The NASA Roadshow will arrive Thursday, June 12, in the Tom and Elizabeth Brady Innovation Center in the Nitschke Technology Commercialization Complex.

A number of speakers will address event attendees beginning at 12:30 p.m. Those set to give remarks include Carol Contrada, president of the Lucas County Board of Commissioners; Toledo Mayor D. Michael Collins; and Diana Hoyt, program executive for innovation and strategic partnerships in the Office of the Chief Technologist at NASA Headquarters.

Jim Garrett, CEO for Vadxx Energy, a Cleveland-based recycling company, will deliver the keynote address.

The event will grant regional businesses access to the brainpower, research capabilities and resources of NASA to solve technical challenges, with hopes that the assisted companies achieve expanded growth and eventual job creation. The roadshow is part of a federally funded, three-year experimental program to comply with a White House directive that NASA and other federal agencies accelerate their technology transfer activities and make available to all the benefits of federally funded research and development investments.

Five local businesses were selected to receive immediate help at the event: Cooper Tire and Rubber Co., Findlay; H & H Specialties LLC, Temperance, Mich.; Henny Penny Corp., Eaton, Ohio; Metal Forming and Coining Corp., Maumee; and SkyLife Technology Holdings LLC, Toledo.

Organizers of the event include UT LaunchPad Incubation and UT Innovation Enterprises (UTIE), the Toledo Community Foundation, the Lucas County Economic Development Corp. and the Toledo Regional Chamber in partnership with NASA, the Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network, the Northwest Ohio Manufacturing Extension Partnership and the Ohio Development Services Agency.

“This is an opportunity for companies to break down their technological barriers and receive assistance from top-tier scientists and engineers,” said Jessica Sattler, director for economic engagement and business development programs and manager of UT’s LaunchPad Incubation Program. “LaunchPad, funded by Ohio Third Frontier, is a perfect partner for this event. Our mission is similar to the goal of the NASA Roadshow, to provide innovative guidance and solutions to companies.”

Four area companies have been invited to the Glenn Research Center in Cleveland to also receive help from NASA scientists: a second division of Cooper Tire; Hirzel Canning Co., Northwood; SPB Global LLC, Perrysburg; and UTIE investment Nextronex Inc., Millbury.

“UTIE’s mission closely aligns with NASA’s current initiative: to support commercial activity and economic growth,” said Rhonda Wingfield, interim CEO of UTIE. “Nextronex is one of UTIE’s earliest investments. It is a successful, viable company with a technological hurdle. We are excited that they were one of the companies chosen for NASA’s expertise, which will no doubt propel Nextronex to the next level.”

Nextronex develops and sells utility-scale solar inverters, supplying energy maximization systems for photovoltaic installations across the country and around the world.

NASA engineers will aid seven additional companies in the form of on-site visits or teleconferencing. These companies are Akadeum Life Sciences, Ann Arbor; Ann Arbor Aircraft, Adrian, Mich.; AV3 Ltd., Columbus; Plastic Technologies Inc., Holland; Rowmark LLC, Findlay; SFC Graphics, Toledo; and Mennel Milling Co., Fostoria.

“Bringing the roadshow to Toledo is a result of strategic relationship building by UT and regional partners. We hope for outcomes like this event to bolster development in the region, including economic development and growth in job creation,” Sattler said.