The new lab partnership between the Timken Co. and the University of Akron College of Engineering aims at innovation — developing new ways to reduce friction, wear and corrosion, enabling products such as Timken bearings to work better, last longer and cut energy usage. That’s an achievement in itself, but there is more to the Timken Engineered Surfaces Laboratories.
The partnership is an innovation, a unique way of sharing information between company and college that promises to benefit the entire region. Timken, which had done all its research in-house, will expand its research capabilities, moving faster in a competitive global marketplace while protecting its intellectual property for all applications in which the company has an interest.
For its part, the university will pursue other uses, making the lab’s equipment, technology and know-how available to other companies through the Center for Surface Engineering and Lubrication Research. That’s an advantage for smaller companies, putting research within their reach.
The concept, called “open innovation,” recognizes that smaller companies can minimize the costs and risks associated with research by forming links to the university, which also offers expertise in intellectual property law and commercializing research. Open innovation opens possibilities for spin-off companies to develop.
Beyond all that, the venture demonstrates to the region the many pathways to success that can come from forging new partnerships.