State funds boost manufacturing initiatives

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Submitted by Laura Nelson

Nabil Nasr, assistant provost and CIMS director, second from left, and Dominic Maiola, CIMS technician, far right, discuss an Innovation Test Bed Project with Assemblymen David Koon and Joseph Morelle. The Test Bed was one of the projects funded under a state grant that Morelle and Koon announced at a recent event at RIT.

Members of the New York state Assembly delegation, including Assemblymen Joseph Morelle and David Koon, along with RIT President Bill Destler and Nabil Nasr, assistant provost and director of RIT’s Center for Integrated Manufacturing Studies, recently announced $800,000 in new funding, which is included in the 2007-2008 state budget, to support a pair of programs—the Innovation Testbed and the Knowledge Clearing House.
Assemblymembers Susan John and David Gantt also requested the funding on behalf of RIT.

These two initiatives were among the key recommendations of CIMS’ Roadmap for the Revitalization of Upstate New York Manufacturing, a two-year, bottom-up analysis of upstate manufacturers that was funded with support from the New York state Assembly and the U.S. Department of Commerce. Both efforts will assist companies in implementing new technologies into their production processes, enhance technical knowledge and improve overall competitiveness.

“The key to future economic development will be innovation and partnerships between the private and academic sectors,” Morelle says. “The CIMS testbed and clearinghouse are precisely the sort of campus-based resources needed to support entrepreneurship and job creation in upstate, and indeed all across New York. It is an honor to be a part of this ground-breaking effort and to work with an institution of such renown and excellence as RIT.”

“The Roadmap report and these two very significant initiatives are demonstrative of the kind of university-industry collaboration that is made possible by unique resources such as CIMS,” notes Destler. “The outstanding members of our Assembly delegation who secured this funding have been strong and united proponents of CIMS since its very inception, and we are most appreciative of their continued investment and confidence in CIMS and RIT.”

“RIT has long been among the foremost leaders in addressing the challenges our region faces in turning around our economic fortunes, as demonstrated through the work of CIMS and its Roadmap report,” says Koon. “I am proud to partner with my Assembly delegation colleagues to invest in the initiatives recommended in this report. I believe that the continuing work we are funding will have a dramatic impact on the manufacturing sector in upstate New York and will be a critical component in our economic turnaround.”

CIMS’ Roadmap study sought to analyze the upstate manufacturing environment by surveying individual companies and cluster organizations, making on-site visits to dozens of manufacturing facilities, and engaging government, business and community leaders in an open dialogue regarding current assistance efforts and challenges facing businesses. The implementation of new technological innovations and access to technical knowledge about new market opportunities and industry trends are two areas the study highlights as requiring improved focus.

In response, the Innovation Test Bed and the Knowledge Clearing House will work with individual companies and cluster organizations to test, validate and implement new innovations and study and disseminate information on new market and product development opportunities. CIMS will also work closely with the state’s Manufacturing Extension Partnerships and Industrial Development Agencies to identify companies who need assistance as well as additional areas of focus.

“This funding will enable CIMS to go full speed ahead in working with manufacturing firms and other partners to help the target industries deal with the competitiveness challenges they are facing, create new business opportunities using new technologies and identify potential inter-industry collaborations that will further strengthen economic growth throughout upstate,” says Nasr. “We look forward to a strong return on this investment for New York state.”