UB Business Alliance Places Industrial-Assistance Programs Under One Roof, Offering Businesses A "One-Stop Shop"

Release Date: November 5, 1998 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Businesses in Western New York and beyond have a new and improved way to access the University at Buffalo in the UB Business Alliance, an organization designed to enhance the university's partnerships with industry.

The UB Business Alliance, the launch of which was announced at a press conference today (Nov. 5, 1998), will provide a central focus for the economic-development and industrial-outreach activities of the university.

Whether companies are seeking assistance with research and development, staff training, testing a new product, licensing a UB invention or attracting student interns, they now will find it with just one call to the UB Business Alliance. The UB Business Alliance combines four critical services the university provides to industry:

-- The Center for Industrial Effectiveness (TCIE), affiliated with the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, which offers training programs, research-and-development assistance, technical assistance and assessments, and translation services.

-- Office of Technology Transfer Services, which specializes in identifying, patenting and licensing to the private sector inventions developed at UB.

-- University at Buffalo Foundation Incubator, operated in cooperation with the Western New York Technology Development Center, which supports the establishment of new technology-intensive businesses. Many are run by UB faculty members, students or alumni; commercialize UB inventions, or provide applied-learning opportunities for UB students.

-- Health Care Business Center, a partnership with the Health Care Industries Association, which brings together researchers, manufacturers and local health-care providers with the university to enhance the health-care industry in Western New York.

UB President William R. Greiner described the UB Business Alliance as "a vital link in the university's economic-development efforts.

"It will benefit not only the university, but the region's businesses and industries, serving as a convenient point of entry for companies seeking the expertise of UB's faculty and departments," he added.

Greiner said that by uniting several of the university's industrial-assistance programs, the UB Business Alliance will allow the university "to be more responsive, flexible and entrepreneurial in working with companies.

"The Business Alliance will provide them with greater access to UB-developed inventions, ideas and expertise in world-class manufacturing and management practices. And that's in line with the university's desire to make economic development the cornerstone of UB's public-service mission. We want to be a key player in revitalizing the region's economy."

Ronald Allman, plant manager of American Axle & Manufacturing's Tonawanda Forge facility and chair of the UB Business Alliance advisory board, said that focusing UB's economic-development and industrial-outreach activities "will modernize and simplify industry's ability to match needs with the university's expertise. The UB Business Alliance will enhance and facilitate the accessibility of the university's resources to industry in New York State."

The idea of an alliance combining services that UB offers to industry resulted from a benchmarking study of similar services at 24 major research universities undertaken in 1996 by The Center for Industrial Effectiveness, the Office of the Provost and the Office of the Senior Vice President for University Services.

The common thread among the most successful services was that all of their industrial-assistance programs were under one roof, said Rebecca Landy, chief operating officer of the UB Business Alliance.

The new organization will be a "one-stop shop" for businesses contacting UB, said Mark Karwan, Ph.D., chief executive officer of the UB Business Alliance and dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

"Before, a company might decide to call our department of industrial engineering in search of, for example, expertise in industrial hygiene," he explained. "The department would respond that industrial hygiene is not part of industrial engineering, but that possibly experts in it might be found in the medical school or nursing school. The caller would get this bounce from one department to another as each of us tried to refer the company to the proper source.

"Now, a company will place one call and get the answer."

That will be the case, regardless of how specific or technical the request, Karwan added.

For example, if a pharmaceutical company needs structural information on a molecule that can be provided only by nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, the alliance, through its new database, quickly will identify where in the university the instrument is located, as well as the appropriate contact person.

If a company is looking for someone who can translate letters or contracts into another language, the UB Business Alliance will identify an appropriate expert.

As has always been the case with UB's business-assistance programs, the UB Business Alliance will continue to identify the best people and facilities to solve a problem, whether they are at UB, another educational institution or even a non-profit or government agency.

The UB Business Alliance's most up-to-date, detailed information on UB programs, research and centers is available on its Web site and in its recently printed "Directory for Business & Industry."

A key function of the UB Business Alliance will continue to be assistance to manufacturing firms, which make up 70 percent of the firms to which UB provides services.

For example, SPIR -- the Strategic Partnership for Industrial Resurgence -- a cooperative effort that leverages SUNY's engineering programs at UB and other SUNY units, provides research facilities and resources to small manufacturing firms.

Since its inception in 1994, this program alone has contributed to the retention of nearly 6,000 manufacturing jobs and the creation of more than 1,500 new ones in Western New York, as well as to total sales increases of more than $20 million.

It also has provided valuable, on-the-job experience to more than 700 UB students.

TCIE has been credited with creating or saving more than 5,000 jobs in more than 500 Western New York firms of all sizes since its inception in 1988.

Those efforts have seen increasing success, with funding for TCIE jumping to more than $3 million from just $250,000 in the past five years.

Whereas just a few years ago, 90 percent of TCIE's funding came from state grants, the center now receives about two-thirds of its revenue as fees for service from companies that it assists, Landy said.

For more information and a free copy of the directory, please contact Jacqueline Badura, industry contact coordinator, at 716-636-3651.

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