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Published: Friday, 6/15/2007

UT high-tech lab signs few clients

An information technology testing laboratory in Toledo has been operating for months but has had few business customers.

The Platform Lab, created with state money and run at University of Toledo Health Science campus, enables businesses to test hardware and software for disaster recovery, stress and load, and other services.

"It is a foregone conclusion that Toledo is going to be a success," said lab director Steve Gruetter. "It is just a matter of time before we are significantly busy in Toledo."

Betco Corp., a Toledo firm that supplies institutional cleaning and maintenance products, has reserved time for several weeks this summer. Gail Jones-Nemeth, chief information officer, called the lab cost effective because the firm doesn't have to buy equipment needed for testing.

"This is a tremendous deal and a great resource that is going to be used," she said. "It can provide testing and evaluations to smaller companies that don't have the budgets for all of this equipment."

Pilkington PLC signed up for four to eight weeks in the lab. Bill McCreary, vice president and chief technology officer, said the firm's tests otherwise would have been sent to Chicago.

Lab director Steve Gruetter said, "The mission of the lab is to give firms a competitive edge by providing them with the ability to use hardware and software for testing purposes at very low costs."

The lab, part of a state-wide supercomputer network system, is at the campus of the UT medical center, the former Medical College of Ohio. It is the third of four platforms established from an Ohio Department of Development program in 2001. The others are in Columbus, Cleveland, and Cincinnati.

Mr. Gruetter, who directs marketing for the supercomputer network, said 13 weeks have been reserved by the companies in Toledo, more than what was booked when the other labs had their grand openings. The local center had its grand opening yesterday.

The non-profit computer outfit charges $300 per week for each device with the average cost to customers running about $2,500 a week.

Most of the more than 120 clients in the program have booked space in Columbus, said Mr. Gruetter, who grew up in East Toledo.

Customers range from insurance companies and health care providers to Abercrombie & Fitch and state offices.



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