An Akron-based partnership agreed on Monday to work with a similar venture from Slovenia to develop new products for orthopedics, wound healing and other medical applications.
The deal brings together the Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron with the Center of Excellence for Polymer Materials and Technology, or PoliMaT for short.
Leaders from the groups entered a memorandum of understanding to work together on commercialization and job creation in Akron and Slovenia.
The signing took place during a ceremony Monday afternoon to mark the opening of PoliMaT’s U.S. headquarters in the Akron Global Business Accelerator, the city’s business incubator downtown.
PoliMaT brings together 17 for-profit polymer companies in Slovenia with two of that country’s largest universities and two government-sponsored research institutes.
The Slovenian initiative is similar to Akron’s BioInnovation Institute, founded by Akron’s three hospital systems, the University of Akron and Northeast Ohio Medical University to promote research, education and job creation focused on polymers and medicine.
“I look forward to us working together on jobs and solutions for both Akron and Slovenia,” said Frank Douglas, chief executive of the BioInnovation Institute.
Slovenia’s polymer companies are strong in the areas of adhesives and paints, said Mateja Dermastia, chief executive officer of PoliMaT. By working with the Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron, “the opportunities to diversify these companies in the medical industry are very strong.”
The growing relationship between Slovenia and Akron started in the spring, when a Slovenian official was among a group of delegates from the Chicago International Trade Commissioners Association who visited Akron.
Akron leaders then visited Slovenia in September — a trip that resulted in an agreement between the Technology Park Ljubljana in Slovenia and the Akron Global Business Accelerator to work together.
The city has entered other “science and technology bridge” agreements with communities in Finland, Germany and Israel to help businesses from those countries establish Akron locations to break into the U.S. market, said Bob Bowman, Akron’s deputy mayor of economic development.
The deal also will give Akron-area companies access to the Eastern European country.
Akron officials have said Slovenia is often overlooked because of its small size — it has a population of about 2 million — but it has one of the highest education rates in the globe and a strong focus on research and development.
Northeast Ohio has one of the world’s highest Slovenian populations outside Slovenia, said Jurcek Zmauc, consul general of the Republic of Slovenia in Cleveland.
“The state of Ohio is very important to Slovenia,” he said.
Cheryl Powell can be reached at 330-996-3902 or email@example.com. Follow Powell on Twitter at twitter.com/abjcherylpowell.