WSU research and industry collaborate through projects funded twice a year by grants from the Washington Technology Center’s Research and Technology Development program.

WSU’s Karl Englund has participated in three RTD-funded projects with three different companies. A research associate in WSU’s Wood Materials and Engineering Laboratory, Englund works with wood-plastic composites used to produce building products like decking and door and window frames. Benefits of these products include durability, environmental friendliness and practical use of recycled and waste materials.

Working collaboratively with industry on research can help build a better understanding of each others’ needs, Englund said.

“There may be a vital (industry) need that we wouldn’t normally see in a university setting,” he said. “Without this collaboration, these types of opportunities might be overlooked. Working with businesses allows research teams to see first-hand how the technology fits with real-world application.”

Similarly, industry benefits by exploring innovative research concepts that have the potential to make businesses stand out, improve operations or otherwise gain a competitive edge, Englund said. “The researcher is a vital resource for determining how these concepts can be implemented,” he said.

The center is a statewide economic development agency that channels state, federal and private money to help companies plug into university research. The RTD program awards more than $1 million annually to university researchers working with emerging technology companies on projects that show potential for commercial success.

In mid-January, WTC announced it’s 12 newest grant recipients. Of those, five were connected to WSU research projects. For more information, see the article at WSU Today online, http://www.wsutoday.wsu.edu/completestory.asp?StoryID=1438.