June 15, 2006

Ohio's research universities refocusing to generate research, spur economic growth

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Case Western Reserve University joins Ohio's public and private research universities that are refocusing doctoral programs to generate world-class research and stimulate economic growth.

Members of the Ohio Board of Regents heard details June 15 about the upcoming launch of the state's Economic Growth Challenge/Innovation Incentive funding program at their monthly meeting at Xavier University in Cincinnati.

"With this program, we are building on Ohio's tradition of leadership in innovation," said Edmund J. Adams, chairman of the Ohio Board of Regents. "These funds will bolster Ohio's research and manufacturing strengths and will lead to new products and create good jobs."

Beginning in July, Ohio's research universities are expected to reallocate 1.5 percent—every year for ten years for a total of 15 percent—of the state funding each higher education institute receives for doctoral programs offered on their campuses. The state will then match those qualifying reallocated funds through the Economic Growth Challenge/Innovation Incentive Program.

Case is among the 10 public and two private universities in the economic growth and innovations program.

The university has identified six investment areas that have potential to boost economic growth in the region and state: imaging, neural engineering, stem cell and regenerative medicine (including tissue engineering), alternative energy, genetics and personalized medicine, and nanomedicine.

"Case plans to expand its research in each area over the next 10 years, according to Eric Cottington, associate vice president for research.

Since 2004, Case has invested nearly $14 million in these research areas.

Cottington said with the new funding, the university anticipates increasing its support for graduate students in doctoral programs aligned with these research areas, hire new faculty to support these doctoral programs, and build upon the campus infrastructure to support these research areas.

"By shifting campus resources toward strong doctoral programs that are well-aligned with Ohio's economic priorities, universities will be better able to contribute to Ohio's educational and economic growth," said Garrison Walters, interim chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents. "Matching state funds made available to qualifying universities through the Innovation Incentive Program will encourage these campuses to make some tough choices to refocus their resources and provide significant leverage to attract additional funding sources."

The Economic Growth Challenge/Innovation Incentive Program has four primary objectives:

  • Achieve enhanced program focus through effective doctoral program reallocation investments;
  • Attract preeminent researchers and build world-class research capacity;
  • Create new products and services to be commercialized, leading to job creation and economic growth in Ohio and in the regions of the state; and
  • Complement funding provided from programs included in Ohio's Third Frontier Project.

The ten public universities involved in the Innovation Incentive Initiative are: University of Akron, Bowling Green State University, University of Cincinnati, Cleveland State University, Kent State University, Miami University, The Ohio State University, Ohio University, University of Toledo and Wright State University. The University of Dayton along with Case are the private universities funded.

An Innovation Incentive funding program was a specific recommendation of the Governor's Commission on Higher Education and the Economy. The April 2004 CHEE report stated, "Successful innovation—the continuous process of generating and applying new ideas to the creation and upgrading of products, processes, and services—is a significant ingredient of long-term economic growth. It relies on highly skilled workers who can invent new products and processes, staff essential production systems, maintain complex equipment, and use new technologies in their own organizations."

In recent years, Ohio research has focused on five areas of core economic strength and opportunity: advanced materials; biosciences; information technology; instruments, controls, electronics and advanced manufacturing; and power and propulsion.

The Ohio Board of Regents is the coordinating body for higher education in the state. Created in 1963 by the General Assembly, the 11-member public board has a direct, non-governing relationship with all of Ohio's colleges and universities.

Posted by: Heidi Cool, June 15, 2006 11:26 AM | News Topics: HeadlinesMain, Research, Technology

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