The Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania region has generational opportunities in the interrelated modern manufacturing, advanced materials, and energy sectors. In fact, the Region has the opportunity to lead the world in the next advanced manufacturing revolution due to (1) its world-class strengths in relevant technologies, including additive manufacturing, advanced materials production and processing, robotics, artificial intelligence, data analytics, and chemicals processing, (2) its remarkable manufacturing legacy, (3) its very substantial and economical energy and feedstock assets, (4) its proximity to a large majority of North American end users, and (5) it’s very competitive cost of living. These and other factors – validated through various econometric studies including those conducted by McKinsey & Company in each of the three states – underscore the significant potential for unprecedented economic and community development.
These opportunities, however, are not self-effectuating, and in fact economic and population growth of the Region are below national and competing regional averages, and valuable resources, including not only gas and NGL’s, but talent and technologies, are leaving the Region at an unacceptable rate. The Tri-State Region has to face these very real challenges in order for its potential to be realized.
Path to Realization
After discussions with stakeholders across the Region, it was decided to initiate a process to seize these exceptional opportunities through a research and innovation collaboration among companies, universities, federal labs, accelerators and other economic development entities, Manufacturing USA Institutes, and venture funds. An ultimate overriding goal is The Region’s attainment of recognition as the world’s most economically efficient and environmentally sustainable industrial region. This is ambitious, but it is clearly aligned with the Region’s recognized potential to be the world leader in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The collaboration is called IN-2-Market, and a non-profit corporation of that name has been formed which will operate in collaboration with the Energy Innovation Center Institute in Pittsburgh. Funding solicitation of companies and federal and state agencies is now underway.
Several factors make this project increasingly promising. Research at universities and federal labs in the Region is not only excellent, but there is a meaningful focus on critical issues such as decarbonization, commercialization of CO2, energy storage, more sustainable upstream to downstream manufacturing, and productivity enhancements. While the focus of IN-2-Market will not be solely on energy sector issues, the obvious willingness of that sector to collaborate on seeking solutions to shared problems provides an excellent spur to entities across all three sectors to see the value in shared research and development endeavors.
The value proposition of IN-2-Market has four components:
Benefit to Companies – Companies in the Region or desiring to be in the Region with a shared need would benefit from a collaborative effort designed to seek the applied research and development assistance from the resources best suited to address their shared issue. Much of the university research in the Region, while absolutely world-leading, is focused on early stage scientific issues, and not on pressing commercial needs. An effort designed not only to aid in procuring the appropriate capabilities from universities and federal research sources, but also to facilitate resolution of intellectual property issues among collaborators – both companies and labs – and to facilitate the often difficult relationships among companies and universities around research, will drive progress in maximizing the benefits of very significant research capabilities.
Commercialization – It has long been recognized that this Region undercapitalizes on commercialization opportunities of its substantial research resources. The Region produces at least its fair share of superior technologies, but the commercialization sector in the Region is dramatically undercapitalized when compared to other regions, and successful development of start-ups often occurs elsewhere due to the draw of needed venture capital. IN-2-Market does not propose to match the venture resources of Silicon Valley, New York or Boston, but a focused, funded competitive process to award development funding to researchers and entities seeking to become start-ups across the three sectors of opportunity – manufacturing, advanced materials, and energy – could enable not only more entities to develop in the Region and therefore be more likely to stay, but also permit more new technologies to be acquired by companies operating in the Region.
Modernization – It is recognized that modernization in the manufacturing, advanced materials, and energy sectors will be needed if established companies are to continue to prosper, but decisions as to how best to modernize are expensive undertakings for companies in these sectors, and perhaps beyond the capacity of many of the medium and smaller-sized firms across the Region. IN-2-Market will help in connecting companies to university sources which can use cross-cutting technologies to make possible effective analysis of needed changes at acceptable costs.
Talent Attraction and Recruitment – Company funded research projects which involve universities are known to be an excellent pathway to talent attraction and recruitment. IN-2-Market will not only promote such opportunities for effective engagement, but promote modern concepts for training at the researcher and engineer level which will enhance the contributions of new talent to the corporate world.
For a copy of the plan document for IN-2-Market, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.