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Ohio State Takes Lead Role to Improve State’s Auto Industry

Ohio State University is playing a major role in making recommendations to grow the state’s auto industry.

Two College of Engineering professors, Giorgio Rizzoni, director of the Center for Automotive Research and professor of mechanical engineering, and Glenn Daehn, director of the Ohio Manufacturing Institute and professor of materials science and engineering, serve on the Ohio Auto Industry Support Council, established last year by Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland.

They work on a council working group co-chaired by Rizzoni and Eric Burkland, president of the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association, and including Noah Sudow, associate director of economic advancement for the Ohio Board of Regents; and John Magill, chief strategic officer of the Ohio Department of Development.

The committee recently presented to the council a set of five specific recommendations:

1) create a Distributed Manufacturing Innovation Network, which would use computer and networking resources as well as people to connect industry challenges with the resources most likely to create solutions;
2) make use of the University System of Ohio’s resources in expertise, equipment, research staff and students as a catalyst for long-term innovation ideas;
3) identify and train manufacturing advocates — manufacturing professionals who are generalists — who can be liaisons between industry and universities;
4) establish agreements between state-supported organizations, such as Edison Technology Centers (which advance applied research and development to increase competitiveness of existing Ohio companies) and Manufacturing Extension Partnership centers (statewide programs that provide products, services and assistance to Ohio manufacturers), and colleges and universities to foster the exchange of personnel; and
5) provide rapid state funding and approval for projects in which automotive companies agree to cost sharing.

A committee of the Ohio Auto Industry Support Council is indentifying ways and means to implement the recommendations.

“We’re working to reach a historic agreement between the University System of Ohio and consumer products powerhouse P&G that will turn the most innovative ideas developed in our universities into products and economic development,” Strickland says. “To further advance Ohio’s economic growth, I have also called on the Ohio Auto Industry Support Council to use this agreement as a model to advance similar partnerships between the university system and Ohio’s manufacturing sector. I appreciate the council’s quick action to begin working to help more Ohio businesses generate economic development and job creation.”

Through such agreements, Strickland says, companies would get the expertise of the innovative thinkers at universities; universities would benefit from unprecedented opportunities to collaborate with companies on new products or services; and Ohioans would gain the end result of new economic development.

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