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Published: Sunday, 4/18/2010

University of Toledo

Many of history's greatest innovations began with a simple idea.

The purity of ideas, however, is often not enough to ensure success. As inventors through time have discovered, even the most unique of ideas require several elements to promote success.

That's where The University of Toledo Innovation Enterprises (UTIE) comes in.

“Here at UT, it started with some of our own faculty members in the medical, engineering and scientific fields,” said Richard Stansley, chairman of UTIE and former chairman of UT's Board of Trustees. “They had the ideas, but lacked the funding or other resources to develop that concept into a viable product or service.”

UTIE, he said, was created to help those with the ideas connect with people in the UT community who can assist with practicalities, including qualified scientific, academic and research experts, state-of-the-art facilities, funding and strong connections to valuable community organizations.

The program has benefited those within the UT organization, as well as upstart businesses from outside campus, as well.

ADS Biotechnology Corp. was formed by UT faculty members Dr. Ragheb Assaly, Dr. J. David Dignam and Dr. Joseph Shapiro after they developed an effective drug for capillary leak syndrome, an often-fatal medical condition triggered by severe trauma.

“The doctors had the knowledge and experience that will make this drug a significant contribution to medicine,” Stansley said. “What they needed was a path to self-sufficiency.”

With UTIE's and others' assistance, ADS expects its product, polyethylene glycol (PEG)-modified albumin, to be available worldwide within the next few years.

SuGanit Systems, Inc., is another enterprise that expects its partnership with UTIE to reap significant benefits for both the company and the northwest Ohio economy.

Seeking the most qualified experts in producing renewable fuel from non-food substances such as corn stalks and poplar, Chief Executive Officer Praveen Paripati contacted UT researchers, who were more advanced in the complex scientific processes involved.

Soon, Paripati licensed the technology from UT and moved his research and development facilities from Reston, Va., to UT's Clean and Alternative Energy Incubator to take advantage of the University's resources.

Within the next several years, Paripati expects to build a commercial-scale plant in northwest Ohio, which could create 40-50 jobs. Additional manufacturing plants could follow across the United States.

“UT has been helpful in every direction,” Paripati said. “Faculty and staff were creative in solving hard problems and modifying their approaches while keeping economics in view.”

This “can-do” attitude is exactly what potential partners can expect from UTIE, according to Stansley. “UTIE is working to foster that sense of urgency and a culture of streamlined effectiveness. It's very clear what the needs of our community and our country are at this time.”

UTIE encompasses several UT departments, including its research and development, technology transfer, incubation and workforce development enterprises.

The division partners with several local organizations dedicated to economic development, such as the Regional Growth Partnership, Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, Lucas County Improvement Corporation, Northwest Ohio Regional Economic Development, Ohio Department of Development and BioOhio.

“Through UTIE, we're facilitating access to UT's most accomplished researchers and scientists, assisting with business planning, providing valuable incubator space to help begin or expand a business, offering guidance with patenting and licensing and helping secure equity financing resources,” Stansley said. “It's a win-win situation for UT, our local economy and the businesses that will benefit.”

Partnership can begin with a simple phone call to UTIE at 419-383-6900.

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