By JILL ROSENFELD
California State Polytechnic University in Pomona has been selected as the site for a business incubator to develop commercial applications for NASA technology.
The center will work in association with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena and the Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base.
NASA will give Cal Poly Pomona $400,000 annually for two years to establish the project, called the NASA Commercialization Center. After the start-up phase, the center is to operate independently of federal financial assistance.
"Typically an engineer who might want to start a small business knows nothing about the business world," said Robert Parker, the JPL official in charge of selecting a site for the new center. "The incubator is set up to help them put together proposals, understand legal requirements, get financial training, and market their products."
A typical business incubator consists of office and lab space, which start-up businesses lease. An incubator's staff may include coordinators, engineers or other scientists, and business experts. Other experts are brought in on an as-needed basis.
Cal Poly Pomona was chosen from among four applicants, Parker said. The other three were L.A. County, Loyola Marymount University and USC. He declined to discuss specifics of any of the proposals.
"Cal Poly had the best proposal, that's the long and short of it," he said. "They proposed to put up a center that was exclusively devoted to the commercialization of JPL and Dryden technology."
The university will construct a 6,000-square-foot facility within a larger complex being developed near the campus. The complex will include a continuing education center, which will provide support for the incubator. Part of the appeal of the site was that small businesses could expand into the larger facility if need be, Parker said. Also, Cal Poly Pomona has "a business school and engineering school whose faculty and students could work with the center."
JPL technologies with commercial potential include software and microminiature devices, developed for use on interplanetary spcacecraft. The Dryden Flight Research Center is working on airplane-related technologies, such as sensors and flight and propulsion systems.
Staffing and other details have yet to be worked out, and no opening date has been set.
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