Administrator discusses role of universities in development at national energy forum

July 27, 2010 | News, UToday
By Meghan Cunningham

The University of Toledo’s role in growing an alternative energy economy in northwest Ohio was highlighted in a forum at the White House as an example of how higher education can contribute to economic development.



Dr. Frank Calzonetti, UT vice president for research and development, was one of five panelists invited to participate in the Clean Energy Economy Forum July 16 in Washington, D.C. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke, senior government economic officials, and members of the private sector participated in the forum.

Calzonetti, the only speaker representing higher education, used the opportunity to highlight the region’s ability to evolve its “Glass City” history into one of solar energy, particularly through the partnerships between business and University experts and researchers. He described the creation and evolution of what is now First Solar as an example of those partnerships.

“We understand the important role of university research as a primary source of discoveries, talent and opportunities that can support innovation-based economies,” Calzonetti said in his remarks at the forum. “The University has focused its attention in areas where it has particular faculty strengths that supplement regional assets that are also likely to emerge as important to our global economy.”

The role of higher education to help assist in economic development was the theme of Calzonetti’s remarks.

He described the successes of public-private partnerships with universities, noting UT recently joined with Dow Corning to create the Solar Valley Research Enterprise with the financial support of the states of Ohio and Michigan. (Click here to read more.)

In addition, the UT Clean and Alternative Energy Incubator, the Wright Center for Photovoltaics Innovation and Commercialization, and UT Innovation Enterprises were all described as components of the University’s efforts in economic development and community engagement.

Calzonetti said the response to the UT’s work was positive, and while in Washington he was contacted by people interested in research collaborations with the University.

UT was selected to join the forum because of its national leadership in renewable energy, technology transfer, technology incubation and cluster-based economic development, Calzonetti said.

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