Rochester Institute of Technology Kicks Off Corporate R&D Program

The Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) has launched an unusual collaborative research effort with the corporate world. The Rochester, NY school has entered into an agreement with telecommunications company PAETEC for the first project under RIT's new "Corporate R&D" program, in which faculty and graduate students will conduct research for companies, with the companies themselves retaining intellectual property rights to the research developed.

Through the Corporate R&D program, companies pay a fee to retain the rights to intellectual property developed during the research projects based on a fixed pricing structure. RIT, for its part, retains the right to conduct further research that builds off the initial research and to publish research papers.

The concept was the brainchild not of a corporate boardroom but of RIT President Bill Destler, an advocate of university-industry collaboration.

"This program will work to change the way universities and companies do business and assist in creating enhanced opportunities for technology transfer, basic research and economic development," he said in a statement released yesterday.

The initial industry partnership with PAETEC involves a $1 million infusion in research projects over the next three years, with the first project coming out of the College of Applied Science and Technology. (Subsequent projects will be handled by "numerous RIT colleges," according to RIT.) This first project focuses on PAETEC's Pinnacle Communication Management Suite and Allworx VoIP lines from the company's Advanced Solution Group. According to the university, "RIT researchers and the Pinnacle team will tackle a significant challenge that many businesses face, which is how to manage the proliferation of mobile devices, the mobile workforce and lifecycle management. The end goal of the initiative with RIT will be a decrease in costs for business customers associated with managing wireless services and mobile devices."

PAETEC, which is also based in Rochester, already employs directly more than 100 RIT graduates, according to the company.

"The pipeline to local talent has always been strong," said Jack Baron, president of PAETEC's Advanced Solutions Group, in a prepared statement. "We see this as an opportunity to strengthen these ties while benefiting our business in the near-term."

We will bring you further details of this collaboration and about the Corporate R&D program in general in the near future. An audio presentation about the initiative is available here (MPEG-4 support required).

About the Author

David Nagel is the executive producer for 1105 Media's online K-12 and higher education publications and electronic newsletters. He can be reached at dnagel@1105media.com. He can now be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/THEJournalDave (K-12) or http://twitter.com/CampusTechDave (higher education). You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=10390192.

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