- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Five universities in the D.C. area, including George Washington University and Virginia Tech, have decided to combine their research efforts to generate more breakthroughs, investment dollars and jobs for their schools and the region.

The group - which includes George Mason University, the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University - officially formed a partnership Tuesday called Chesapeake Crescent Innovation Alliance. It aims to drive science and technology innovation in the region, attract more investors and create jobs as faculty members from different schools work with each other and private partners to solve problems and create companies to sell their innovative solutions.

Alliance leaders said research efforts could focus on energy, computer networking, homeland security and defense applications, as well as life sciences and aerospace.

The new collaboration is a spinoff of the Chesapeake Crescent Initiative (CCI), a public-private partnership formed this year by the governors of Virginia and Maryland, the mayor of Washington, federal legislative and executive officials, and numerous regional business executives.

GW President Steven Knapp said that, while the D.C. region is widely recognized as a center of power, it’s not as widely recognized as an “innovation, science and technology” leader, though its universities have some of the richest talent pools available.

He said that image will change as the schools combine their research strengths, attract large-scale funding and increase marketing efforts to highlight their intellectual capital.

“I think the payoff for this region will be tremendous,” Mr. Knapp said.

GMU President Alan G. Merten said that, instead of a few Mason researchers writing a $2 million grant proposal, he would like to see them work more with researchers from other schools to write grant proposals for $22 million or $102 million. Such collaboration already occurs, but he would like to see more.

“It’s leveraging our assets,” Mr. Merten said.

The aim is that such collaborations will result in breakthrough discoveries and inventions that can be commercialized into spinoff companies - a key goal of the alliance.



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