NASA program offers consultations for businesses

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TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) -- A federal program is giving companies from northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan a chance to get free, confidential research and development insight directly from NASA experts.

Engineers and technical specialists from Glenn Research Center in Cleveland will consult with participants for up to eight hours and may share declassified technology used by the space agency, The Blade in Toledo reported (http://bit.ly/1dXzDoA ).

Businesses have until Wednesday to apply for the June 12 event at the University of Toledo. It is part of the NASA Roadshow program, which started with a December event where scientists met with several companies at Youngstown State University.

"Initially, the idea is to make a difference in the eyes of the people sitting across the table from us, to provide them with insights," said Joe Shaw, deputy director of the office of technology partnerships and planning at the research center.

The longer-term goal, he said, is "about building and increasing understanding and support from the community that their investment in R&D at NASA and in NASA missions comes around and benefits us here on the ground right now." That means dispelling the idea that the folks at Glenn are rocket scientists who can't help other businesses or fields, Shaw said.

As many as 10 regional companies will be part of the event, and the selection team will favor businesses with good financing and product development backgrounds, rather than startups, said Keith Burwell, president of the Toledo Community Foundation, one of the sponsors.

The NASA participants have expertise in areas such as communications technology, cryogenics, propulsion systems and energy storage and conversion. The breadths of technologies studied by NASA over the years might surprise business people unsure about whether the experts could help them, Burwell said.

The program is patterned after a Cleveland-area program that Glenn Research Center participated in years ago. That effort helped a phonograph maker create an updated process for pressing vinyl records.

"We gave them new perspectives on how to improve their business model," Shaw said.

At least a dozen northwest Ohio companies have applied for the Toledo event.

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Online:

NASA Roadshow Toledo applications: https://prism-nasa.fluidreview.com/

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Information from: The Blade, http://www.toledoblade.com/