Monday, May 17, 2010

TechBelt Tidbit

Cleveland-based NorTech looks poised to be the center of gravity for the nascent TechBelt Initiative. A reminder about the background for NorTech's current CEO, Rebecca Bagley:

Previously, Ms. Bagley served as Deputy Secretary for the Technology Investment Office of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED). In that capacity she was responsible for the administration of several major state initiatives, with a total of $79 million in yearly appropriations, and more than $1.7 billion in investments. She also managed the passage of $650 million for Pennsylvania's Energy Independence Fund. She previously served as Director of the Venture Investment for DCED and managed venture and real estate investment programs.

During Bagley's brief tenure, NorTech has become decidedly less Cleveland-centric. Her experience and contacts in Pennsylvania give the TechBelt some gravity. But the activities in Warren (Ohio) concerning the green technology incubator looks to be the spark Cleveburgh needs:

NorTech has signed on as an applicant for a five-year, $129.7 million federal grant to create an Energy Regional Innovation Cluster (E-RIC) in the TechBelt region. The proposal is focused on developing new technologies to improve the design of energy-efficient building systems.

"This was truly a regional effort, with collaborators spanning across the entire TechBelt region from Cleveland, Akron, Youngstown, Pittsburgh and Morgantown, W.Va.," Kelly South, senior director of communications for NorTech, said.

David Karpinski, NorTech vice president and director of Energy Enterprise, said the grant is very competitive because only one proposal nationwide will be funded. Between 25 and 40 applications were submitted before the deadline, and he expects that every applicant will request the entire available amount of $129.7 million. ...

... Karpinski said the TechBelt Energy Innovation Center is centrally located within the TechBelt region and there are many manufacturing capabilities in the Mahoning Valley.

Pittsburgh had been the focal point because of its proximity to several research laboratories, but "at this point, we need engineers, not scientists. So it doesn't make sense to put the prototype building there. That's when we decided it should be in Ohio and Warren is ideal,'' Karpinski said.

Research in Pittsburgh, the development located in the Mahoning Valley; the geographic division of labor in the corridor is provocative. But can the knowledge spillover travel that far? I think the answer is yes. That's why I think Cleveburgh is about the right size for a regional initiative.

The genius behind the TechBelt is understanding the proximity benefits of the Pittsburgh laboratories (which, by the way, include those at WVU in Morgantown) for Northeast Ohio. What's going on across the border in Pennsylvania is of interest to Cleveland, Akron and Youngstown. Time to bury the ironically parochial Team NEO.

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