The Value of Corporate R&D Centers
IBM’s Austin Research Laboratory is one of the company's 8 research laboratories worldwide. Although it has the smallest number of employees of any of the 8 labs – 74 employees – it has the highest number of patents and technical awards per person within IBM Research.
That’s good for IBM, but it’s also good for Austin. The article points to several successful startup companies in Austin with IBM roots, and quotes a local venture capitalist as saying “IBM helps put Austin on the map in the technology world. I wouldn’t have much to do in Austin if IBM weren’t here. It really is that important to the software community.”
The article also cites the contributions IBM makes to the University of Texas – research grants to professors, gifts of equipment for research projects, summer jobs for graduate students, and feedback on research ideas. IBM and UT professors help each other on federal research grants. A university computer science professor said “There is a flow of knowledge and people in both directions that has been enormously valuable for the university.”
Austin's experience with IBM is one more example of the importance of retaining the many existing corporate R&D centers in southwestern Pennsylvania, attracting new ones, and building strong bridges between the corporate R&D centers and our research universities and medical center.