Pan Pacific Symposium Conference Proceedings

The Richard Desich SMART Commercialization Center for Microsystems: A New Model to Drive Industry Development

Author: Chris Mather
Company: Lorain County Community College
Date Published: 2/14/2012   Conference: Pan Pacific Symposium

Abstract: Many states, universities and the federal government have funded "commercialization centers" to spur small technology company formation, bring research to market, provide equipment access, and drive economic activity. These centers, however, have seldom resulted in significant and sustained industrial activity. The Richard Desich SMART Commercialization Center for Microsystems at Lorain County Community College (SMART) represents a new approach to such public/private partnerships and may prove to be a model for spurring technology growth in the United States.

In 2010, Lorain County Community College (LCCC) proposed SMART to the Ohio Third Frontier, responding to an RFP for commercialization projects. SMART differentiated itself as a shared-resource, multi-user technology center focused on post-wafer microsystems/sensor packaging, testing and inspection. In September 2011, SMART opened in temporary headquarters and broke ground on a new 40,000 square foot facility. The new facility is largely funded by philanthropically, with a gift from Richard Desich, a highly successful entrepreneur who benefitted from LCCC's entrepreneurial support services.

Technology commercialization centers located at research universities have had commercialization results hindered by their research focus and lack of industry experienced marketing and management staff. SMART takes a different approach, being located at a community college, staffed with commercially experienced management, and focused solely on commercial engagement and results.

The SMART model represents a unique partnership opportunity for the Electronic Manufacturing Services (EMS) industry. Potential EMS customers can work in such a facility to finalize design prior to manufacturing implementation. SMART can recommend specific EMS partners early in the design cycle, allowing for collaboration and greater likelihood of a business relationship. SMART can make companies more productive, more likely to undertake sensor and microsystems projects, and more likely to do so in the United States.

In this paper, we will discuss the SMART concept, describe our equipment, programs, and industry approach, and review early results we have seen from SMART.

Key Words: 

commercialization centers, SMART, microsystems

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