Saturday, April 01, 2006

Breaking Stereotypes About R&D in The Pittsburgh Region

There are a number of stereotypes about Research & Development (R&D) that are problematic for stimulating economic development in the Pittsburgh Region.

One is that R&D only happens in Oakland (or Pittsburgh, or Allegheny County). Another is that R&D only creates jobs for PhDs. A third is that R&D only happens at universities.

An article in Friday's Blairsville Dispatch reports that next week, Indiana County-based CQ Inc. is opening a new office headquarters and a new subsidiary Hardwood Finishers plant in the Corporate Campus business park there.

The company had its roots in the Coal Quality Development Center -- a research facility that was created in 1981 as part of the Electric Power Research Institute. In the 1990s, it spun off and became an independent, employee-owned company. It has now also gone beyond a focus on the energy industry and started a hardwood finishing plant with seven employees -- a new manufacturing operation for the region. The company has 135 employees nationwide, 30 of whom are here in the Pittsburgh Region.

Clark Harrison, President and CEO of CQ Inc., is quoted as saying:

"Almost everything we do are things our employees either discovered themselves, and patented, or a technology they found someplace, and they found a novel way to use it, or a way for our company to use it."

The company's experience also demonstrates the value of university/corporate R&D partnerships. The company has also developed something called "E-Fuel." They have a joint venture with Westvaco Corporation, which runs a paper mill, to take waste paper and turn it into fuel pellets. The idea for the fuel came from experiments CQ, Inc. conducted at Indiana University of Pennsylvania with sewage sludge.

It's worth noting that the Corporate Campus in Indiana County, where CQ, Inc. is expanding, was created by public and private leaders in Indiana County to help provide the kind of land and buildings needed by growing businesses there. Funding to complete the Campus was one of the projects on the first list of regional investment priorities compiled by the Southwestern Pennsylvania Growth Alliance in 1998.

Indiana County is not the only place outside of Allegheny County where R&D is thriving. In August, 2004, the Center for Industrial Technology North America of international firm Philips Electronics announced it was establishing a development center in Washington County. In February, Boston-based Parametric Technology Corporation announced it was locating a development center in Fayette County.

Clearly, expanding R&D is an important region-wide economic development strategy.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


You should start writing for the Post-Gazette, but then you would have to give up all your ideals and blindly support the governor and his legislative cronies with the PG rubber stamp editorials.

9:27 PM  

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