Mar 242008
 
Authors: Cece Wildeman

Considered by many as one of the top research universities in the nation, CSU announced the creation of a new research Supercluster late last week.

A Supercluster can be seen as a sort of science-based business, where people work to research ideas and proceed to market and sell the products they develop. The new Supercluster will focus on clean energy research, developing technology based on biofuels, solar and wind energy. The Supercluster will also be responsible for developing and marketing the cutting-edge technology developed.

In 2007, CSU developed two Superclusters: one centered on infectious disease study and the other a center for cancer research and solutions. While CSU houses researchers in many fields, the Superclusters are designed to highlight the university’s strongest areas of research and produce results that will benefit outside communities.

“These Superclusters are designed to take advantage of areas where CSU is a leader,” said Bill Farland, vice president for research at CSU.

CSU President Larry Penley is credited with developing the two-part model of the Clean Energy Supercluster: one part academia, one part business. Over 100 CSU faculty members make up the academic side working in the field of research. Cenergy, a university-raised marketing company, will field the business operations of the Supercluster.

Mark Wdowik, the president and CEO of CSU ventures, said the Supercluster model is meant to change the culture of research and to create products that have usability.

In the newest Supercluster, researchers will work together to develop the new clean energy technology before working with Cenergy employees to move the on-campus discoveries into businesses. In addition, Cenergy will work to create partnerships with other organizations interested in supporting the Supercluster.

“These partnerships are about getting our current research out into the real world,” Wdowik said. “The financial side is really an underlying benefit. It is more about global needs.”

Wade Troxell, associate dean for research in the college of engineering, said that the new Supercluster would be a great chance for CSU to show the benefits of their research.

“We have a long history of working in clean energy but this provides a good focus for delivering the benefits to society,” he said.

The university has seen success with the other two Superclusters, which were announced in 2007, and expect to see the same from the new Supercluster.

“We have to give it some time to really get going, but a lot of companies are showing an interest in our business and research relationship,” Farland said.

Farland adds that these relationships can be seen in work done by Envirofit and AVA Solar, both companies with roots at CSU. He noted such relationships heed benefits for the university because companies trust the quality of the university’s research and are likely to re-hire them for future research as well as support the university in other research endeavors.

In addition to the development of the Clean Energy Supercluster, Farland said Penley will likely move forward in signing the President’s Climate Commitment, an agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that has been signed by 507 university presidents so far.

Senior Reporter Cece Wildeman can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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