Loveland, NASA Officials Approach Liftoff with Business Initiative
How do you turn space technology into earth-bound products for businesses and consumers? That's the question Loveland business leaders and NASA officials batted around today during the Innovation and Technology Showcase, designed to explore so-called “technology transfers”.The event drew more than 250 people to the Rocky Mountain Center for Innovation & Technology—the former and largely empty campus of Agilent Technologies. The goal, says Loveland Department of Economic Development’s Betsey Hale, is to bring businesses and NASA together to explore collaborations.
The city is reinvigorating its partnership with NASA after a bid to create the Aerospace and Clean Energy Innovation Park in Loveland soured last March. Since then the city has put up $150,000 to float a tech transfer initiative for about 25 local companies.
So what exactly does that look like?
Ohio-based NASA Glenn Research Center Director Ray Lugo says it might resemble a recent collaboration with a vinyl record maker in Cleveland.
“He had a problem in that he needed sensor technology so he could make sure that when he was pressing records he wasn’t pressing them the wrong way, and so that’s a technology we actually work on at NASA Glenn.”
One of the beneficiaries so far of the Loveland initiative is Vergent Products, which creates things like sensors to test molten aluminum. CEO Terry Precht says he’s already traveled to the Glenn Center in Cleveland to discuss patents and new opportunities. His idea?
“We’re really integrating is what we’re doing,” he said. “It will be measuring various types of environmental elements.”
The Loveland collaboration is one of a few going on across the country, says Diana Hoyt who works in NASA’s Office of the Chief Technologist.
“We are trying to find ways that mere mortals can understand NASA technology and also to teach NASA how to understand the business community,” she said. “So we’re opening the gates on both ends.”
Hoyt works in an office that was created by President Barack Obama, with the purpose of using taxpayer funded technology to create jobs in the coming years—a newly revived mission for NASA. And a new one for the city of Loveland, which is hoping its investment will pay off in the form of jobs soon.