Retention and Creation of WNY Jobs, New Partnerships to be Celebrated by UB Business Alliance at Feb. 8 Reception

Release Date: January 31, 2001 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Retention of 8,000 Western New York jobs and creation of 600 new ones.

A $600,000 federally funded partnership designed to bring jobs and technologies to the region.

New licensing agreements, including one in which the Australian postal service will employ a handwriting-recognition technology developed at UB.

Instant access to UB's resources for business through a brand-new Web site.

A searchable database of UB technologies available for licensing.

These are just a few of the accomplishments that will be celebrated at the UB Business Alliance 2001 Grand Reception, to be held from 4-6 p.m. Feb. 8 in the Center for the Arts on the University at Buffalo North (Amherst) Campus.

Keynote speaker Arvin Mueller, group vice president of General Motors Powertrain, will discuss his organization's recent decision to expand operations in Western New York. Through the Center for Industrial Effectiveness, the UB Business Alliance helped provide the technical assistance and training necessary for the GM Powertrain Tonawanda Engine Plant to receive QS 9000 certification.

Other speakers will be Kevin Donovan, area director, United Auto Workers Region 9, and Ron Allman, vice president for manufacturing for the forging division of American Axle & Manufacturing. The UB Business Alliance has a long history of working with American Axle to retain jobs by assessing, planning, scheduling and implementing education-and-training sessions for labor and management at the company's two local plants.

Wayne Diesel, SUNY vice chancellor for business and industry relations, will make opening remarks.

During the reception, the theme of which is "Igniting Ideas," two individuals -- one each from the public and private sectors -- will receive awards recognizing leadership in igniting ideas for economic development.

Also at the reception, the Business Alliance will launch its new, improved Web site, designed to make it easier for businesses to quickly find the assistance they need at UB by doing simple keyword searches. The new site, located at the alliance's existing URL, also features for the first time a searchable database of technologies available for licensing.

"In the coming year, the UB Business Alliance will be front and center in UB's new thrust to better integrate industry needs with our research capabilities and technologies ranging from drug discovery to industrial design," said Jaylan Turkkan, vice president for research and co-chair of the UB Business Alliance with Mark Karwan, dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

Major achievements during the past 18 months include retention of more than 8,000 jobs and the creation of more than 600 new ones through the Strategic Partnership for Industrial Resurgence (SPIR).

"SPIR continues to be a significant help to local companies," said Karwan.

Through the UB program and similar ones at the SUNY university centers at Binghamton and Stony Brook, SPIR aims to bolster the state economy by promoting the transfer of knowledge from university to industry and by providing consultation, technical assistance, research facilities and resources for industrial restructuring.

Funded by New York State, SPIR grants to businesses cover up to 50 percent of a project's cost for utilizing faculty members, students and other technically trained personnel, as well as fees for using sophisticated research facilities, such as those available at UB.

This year, in response to "overwhelming demand by its business partners," SPIR participants were invited to attend short courses that are eligible for continuing-education credits, according to Tim Mattulke, director of business development for the Business Alliance. Topics that will be covered this spring include the new ergonomic standard and its impact on business, lean supply-chain management, agile manufacturing that helps companies be more responsive to customers and statistical process control.

As the business outreach arm of UB, the UB Business Alliance also will be a key participant in a $600,000 National Science Foundation project with counterparts at the University of Rochester, Rochester Institute of Technology and the cities of Rochester and Buffalo to enrich entrepreneurial efforts in the region.

Through SPIR and other programs it offers, the UB Business Alliance has assisted nearly 60 companies in the past year and a half, including:

• Technicor, a biotech start-up, now a tenant in the UB Technology Incubator of the Business Alliance. The company benefited from assistance from UB's Department of Chemical Engineering. Technicor president Michael Hacikyan had invented a way to fundamentally alter the way blood and other fluids are transported from location to location by turning them into gels. But he wasn't sure he knew how to turn them back into fluids. With assistance from UB chemical engineering professors Sriram Neelamegham and Paschalis Alexandridis he found a way to accomplish this biotech feat.

• Sonwil, which specializes in food and medical storage. The Business Alliance assisted the firm in achieving ISO 9002 certification (international standards certification required for global businesses). With a portion of the project covered by Empire State Development and half the training costs underwritten by SPIR, Sonwil was certified, a month ahead of schedule.

• The Depew plant of Quebecor, a key facility for the world's largest commercial printer, Quebecor-World, now undertaking a $15 million expansion. Through the assistance of Li Lin, UB associate professor of industrial engineering, the UB Business Alliance is involved in this major plant expansion and layout, as well as implementation of computerized scheduling plans.

• Chemical manufacturer Carborundum. Rakesh Nagi, associate professor in the UB Department of Industrial Engineering, and Chunming Qiao, associate professor in the UB Department of Computer Science and Engineering, helped automate a scheduling system by developing customized software.

Other actions the UB Business Alliance has taken to strengthen both the university's own ability to turn inventions into commercial products and its capacity for assisting local and regional firms include opening a satellite office in the Health Care Business Center on UB's South Campus to increase access for UB inventors and instituting a series of seminars on intellectual property issues for faculty and local businesspeople through its Technology Transfer and Licensing (LTL) division.

"Technology-oriented companies help drive economic growth," said Jerry McGuire, director of the TTL, "and key to their success is knowing how to protect intellectual property. The aim of these seminars is to bolster the university's protection processes, while sharing that information for the economic good of the region."

The UB Business Alliance was formed in November 1998 to improve the way that businesses access the university and to provide a central focus for all of UB's economic-development and industrial-outreach activities.

It combines four critical services that the university provides to industry:

• The Center for Industrial Effectiveness (TCIE), which offers training programs, research-and-development assistance, technical assistance and assessments, and translation services

• Office of Technology Transfer and Licensing, which specializes in patenting and then licensing to the private sector inventions developed at UB

• UB Technology Incubator, operated in cooperation with the Western New York Technology Development Center, which supports the establishment of technology-intensive businesses -- many of which are run by UB faculty members, students or alumni -- commercializes UB inventions and provides applied-learning opportunities for UB students

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

Businesses interested in the UB Business Alliance's services may contact Jacqueline Badura, business advocate, at 636-3651.

Representatives of businesses interested in attending the 2001 Grand Reception should call 636-2568, ext. 14.

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