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JobsOhio’s Mark Kvamme Visits Kent State University’s Centennial Research Park

Posted Jul, 26, 2011

State's Chief Jobs Czar Also Meets Privately with Portage County Companies Whose Product Production Uses the University’s Liquid Crystal Technology

Kent State University received Mark Kvamme, the newly installed interim chief investment officer and president of JobsOhio, on Tuesday, July 26. JobsOhio is the private economic development agency established by Gov. John Kasich and the Ohio legislature. Kvamme visited the university’s Centennial Research Park and three Portage County manufacturing firms that are all licensees of technology developed through research at Kent State’s Liquid Crystal Institute®.

Photo from Mark Kvamme's visit to Crystal DiagnosticsPrior to visiting Kent State’s Centennial Research Park, at an event organized by NorTech, Kvamme participated in a roundtable meeting at Kent Displays Inc. (www.kentdisplays.com) to discuss the FlexMattersSM Cluster, a high-growth economic sector tracked and promoted by NorTech. “As members of the FlexMatter Cluster and partners with NorTech to promote regional economic development, we think Mr. Kvamme’s visit highlights the tremendous manufacturing capabilities concentrated in the city of Kent and Portage County,” said Kent State Vice President for University Relations Iris Harvey, who participated in the roundtable discussion.

Created in 1965, Kent State’s Liquid Crystal Institute is the most comprehensive research and educational center in the field of liquid crystals. The applications of breakthrough findings at the institute have had an impact on the world, from liquid crystal display (LCD) televisions to computer monitors to new electronic devices, like the iPad.

Kvamme toured the Kent State Centennial Research Park and its two tenants. Centennial Research Park provides space and support for specialized companies to thrive and grow near the university and its other partners. The 41,000-square-foot research park houses two high-tech companies – AlphaMicron Inc. (www.alphamicron.com) and Crystal Diagnotics (www.crystaldiagnostics.com) – that have their roots in liquid crystal research activities launched at Kent State.

Founded in 1997 by former faculty members of Kent State’s Liquid Crystal Institute, AlphaMicron designs and manufactures high-tech military and consumer products. AlphaMicron was the first in the world to market a flexible liquid crystal device, and in 2008, it landed the single largest award from the the Ohio Third Frontier program for $5 million for research related to its commercial windows project. Crystal Diagnostics, formerly known as Pathogen Systems Inc., was founded in 2006 as a licensee of fundamental liquid crystal biosensor technologies developed jointly by a research partnership between Kent State and Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED), previously known as the Northeastern Ohio Colleges of Medicine and Pharmacy or NEOUCOM.

Kvamme’s visit to Portage County was part of efforts organized by NorTech, a regional nonprofit technology-based economic development organization, to introduce the state’s chief job czar to the FlexMatter Cluster’s capabilities, strengths and opportunities and to provide feedback on how the state government can assist in the growth of flexible electronics. The FlexMatters initiative was announced in 2006 by Dr. John West, Kent State researcher and chemistry professor from the university’s Liquid Crystal Institute who also served as the first NorTech Senior Fellow.

Following the roundtable, Kvamme toured Kent Displays’ facility. Kent Displays was the first successful spin-off of the Liquid Crystal Institute that was founded in 1993 and funded primarily by Manning Ventures of Rochester, N.Y. The company is a world leader in research, development and manufacture of Reflex™ No Power liquid crystal displays for unique applications, such as electronic skins, writing tablets, smartcards and eReaders. Last year, Kent Displays launched a hot new consumer electronics product, the Boogie Board™ LCD Writing Tablet, an ecologically friendly, paperless product.

For more information on Centennial Research Park, visit www.kent.edu/research/facilities/CentennialResearchPark.cfm. For more information on the Liquid Crystal Institute at Kent State, visit www.lci.kent.edu.

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Photo Caption:
Mark Kvamme (center), interim chief investment officer and president of JobsOhio, visited Crystal Diagnostics with his staff, Kent State University and NorTech representatives, and members of the Crystal Diagnostics board of directors. Pictured are (from left to right): Greg Wilson of Kent State University; Paul Rapetto of Crystal Diagnostics; Maria Schimer of NEOMED and Crystal Diagnotics; Kvamme; Rebecca Bagley of NorTech; Dan Minardi of Crystal Diagnostics; and Gary Niehaus of NEOMED and Crystal Diagnostics.

Media Contact:
Emily Vincent, evincen2@kent.edu, 330-672-8595