Provo seeks to nurture Y inventions

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    By ROB WEILER

    Provo City officials hope to turn technologies at BYU into businesses to boost the economy in 2004.

    In Mayor Lewis Billing’s State of the City address last week, Billings said the city hopes to work with BYU’s Technology Transfer Office to help the inventions and products created at the university turn into marketable products.

    Leland Gamette, director of economic development for Provo City, said the city wants to offer ways to nurture new products and businesses created by students and professors.

    “We met with representatives at BYU and have begun dialogue with them on trying to develop ways that we can provide a vehicle for those technologies to be taken to the market place,” Gamette said.

    Lynn Astle, director of BYU’s Technology Transfer Office, said Provo’s economic development department can be a great reference to new businesses.

    “If we’re going to spit a business out of BYU looking for support, we can recommend them to the city’s resources, like the loan program from HUD [U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department] to get started and expand,” Astle said.

    One example of technology developed at BYU and transformed into business is Direct Controls Inc., a Provo machining company.

    Direct Controls Inc. uses a computer program invented by W. Edward Red and C. Greg Jensen, professors of mechanical engineering at BYU.

    The program, called DMAC, which stands for direct machining and control, allows tool design to be transferred from the engineer’s computer to the machining mills at a faster pace.

    “There are several translations that you have to go through with your software to be able to actually run the mills to machine out the part,” Astle said. “The invention BYU developed takes the CAD [computer-aided design] drawing and makes the part without going through the computer translations that are very labor intensive and difficult.”

    Astle is one of six members working on a committee to promote more businesses like DCI. The committee is in the early stages of researching an incubator facility in Provo for small businesses.

    “An incubator will support people who want to start new businesses with general services to get started and offer business expertise,” Astle said.

    Astle said the main purpose of the Technology Transfer Office is to help the faculty commercialize and see their technologies used in society.

    “Our job is to market the technology and market it into a business,” Astle said.

    Direct Controls Inc., still in its first year in business, holds the license for the DMAC program. However, Red said he and Jensen are still able to develop the program with an agreement that any new developments made will go directly to DCI.

    Red said he hopes that by next year, the DMAC program can start to demonstrate their technology to other machining companies around the world.

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