Centennial Research Park Clears Way for Research, Economic Opportunities


Making way for a new era in focused, 21st-century research and economic development, Kent State unveiled a leading-edge research park on June 8 in a former bus garage on the Kent Campus.

“The Kent State Centennial Research Park is an important part of my vision for the university as it enters its second century, by cultivating and capitalizing on intellectual property,” says Kent State President Lester A. Lefton.

Kent State President Lester A. Lefton, NorTech president and CEO Dorothy Baunach, Patricia A. Book, vice president for regional development at Kent State and John West, vice president and dean for research and graduate studies, gather around the new centennial research park sign that was unveiled during a dedication ceremony at Kent State University.
Photo by Jeff Glidden

Kent State President Lester A. Lefton, NorTech president and CEO Dorothy Baunach, Patricia A. Book, vice president for regional development at Kent State and John West, vice president and dean for research and graduate studies, gather around the new centennial research park sign that was unveiled during a dedication ceremony at Kent State University.

The research park will provide space and support for specialized companies to thrive and grow near the university and its partners. It will also provide research, internship and employment opportunities for Kent State graduate and undergraduate students. Faculty researchers from the Liquid Crystal Institute and other disciplines will be available for collaborative projects as well.

In addition, Kent State will use its entrepreneurial assets to aid business growth through its centers that specialize in technology transfer, small business development, business innovation and minority-owned businesses.

“This innovative research initiative fits our mission as a major public research university to promote academic excellence, to provide regional development opportunities and to push the boundaries of discovery for the good of the public,” says Lefton.

The anchor tenant of Kent State’s Centennial Research Park will be the FLEXMatters Accelerator, a broad, public-private high-technology collaboration, designed to produce a new generation of advanced materials and promote regional economic development in Northeast Ohio.

“This region’s strengths in Kent State’s liquid crystals and the University of Akron’s polymer research form a combination found nowhere else in the world,” says Dr. John L. West, vice president for research and dean of graduate studies at Kent State. “Our vision is to turn this education, research and development effort into an industrial cluster that will put Northeast Ohio in the lead of this emerging global technology.”

The initial phase of this project is funded by a portion of the Ohio Third Frontier Research Commercialization Project for the Flexible Liquid Crystal Film Manufacturing Alliance. The alliance is supported by an additional $8 million in matching funds from the collaborators.

All of the collaborators share the goal of developing locally the materials and manufacturing processes for the next generation of electronic optical devices.

Centennial Research Park is located at the corner of State Routes 59 and 261 in the Fiala Building, the former home of Kent State’s student-operated campus bus service, the nation’s largest such operation. Following a partnership with PARTA, the Portage County transportation network, Kent State no longer needed the 44,000 square feet and 10 surrounding acres as a bus garage.

“Now this facility will have a new life serving future economic development in Northeast Ohio, as a globally significant research park connected to a major research university,” Lefton says.

For more information about the research park, its planning and collaborators, read “New Kent State Research Park to Feature Unique High-Tech Collaboration” from the university’s For the Media Web site.

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