UMass Amherst and Kollmorgen Corp. of Northampton Form New Partnership

AMHERST, Mass. - The University of Massachusetts and the Northampton-based Electro-Optical Division (EOD) of Kollmorgen Corp., have forged a new partnership that links academic research to real-world applications. The alliance helps augment the company''s operations and research and development activities, and provides new opportunities for UMass student and faculty research in computer science, engineering, and management.

The link between Kollmorgen and the University, says Frederick W. Byron, interim vice chancellor for research, is particularly significant because of the two entities'' proximity to one another.

"As a public institution, we have a special obligation to provide benefit to our neighbors," he says. "In addition, the partnership helps make the region more attractive to business and industry, and contributes to the state''s economic development efforts."

According to Ken Bixby, general manager and vice president of Kollmorgen EOD, the cooperative agreement establishes a comprehensive, long-term relationship between UMass and Kollmorgen that will facilitate the development of a broad range of future projects. "Our evolving relationship with the University promises to benefit Kollmorgen in many areas, from information systems and operational effectiveness, to technology and new product development," Bixby says.

The collaboration between UMass and Kollmorgen is outlined in a Master Alliance Agreement (MAA), a new concept pioneered by the University''s office of science and technology advancement. Major issues such as intellectual property, proprietary information, and termination rights are negotiated in advance, so new projects may be initiated and processed more quickly, with no additional contracts necessary.

"This type of agreement is more convenient for the company and makes it easier in general to start new projects. It''s highly innovative and substantially improves our ability to form partnerships with industry," says Byron.

The Kollmorgen partnership was facilitated at UMass by Jaymie Chernoff, director of economic development.

"We are eager to find industry partners and commercialize our research in Massachusetts where possible," says Chernoff. "This is where the University''s research, teaching, and economic development agendas coincide."

The alliance also gives the partners a strong competitive edge when competing for federal research dollars, according to Ed Riseman, director of the computer vision lab at UMass. "The solution to practical problems in industry emanates from scientific and engineering research," says Riseman.

"The University/Kollmorgen partnership clearly exemplifies the practical application of academic research, in a real sense demonstrating the validity of the research for government funding sources."

"Kollmorgen gains both great business and technical benefits from being associated with the University," says Zvi Rozen, vice president of engineering for Kollmorgen Corp.''s Aerospace and Defense Group. "The relationship provides needed expertise, supports our new product initiatives, and creates exceptional opportunities to develop our employees."

The new alliance, which was finalized in late July, has already led to the joint sponsorship by UMass and Kollmorgen of a recent symposium on advanced research in digital image enhancement. Several additional projects are also underway concerning joint development of proposals for federal funding; applied research in multivariable control; assessment of possible avenues to expand UMass''s opportunities internationally through participation in the "offset" purchase requirements of foreign customers; and membership in the University''s newly established management information systems consortium.

Kollmorgen Corp., is based in Waltham, Mass., and employs approximately 1,800 employees. The company is separated into two units: the Aerospace and Defense Group and the Industrial and Commercial Motion Technologies Group. The Electro-Optical Division in Northampton employs 220 people and has annual revenues in excess of $40 million.

Kollmorgen''s Electro-Optical Division is the leading designer and producer of advanced submarine periscopes and optronic systems for the U.S. Navy and its allies. In addition, the division produces electro-optical systems and motion control systems for a variety of aerospace and defense applications.

The University of Massachusetts Amherst is the largest state university in New England and one of the leading centers of public education in the Northeast. A land-grant institution established in 1863, the University''s nine schools and colleges offer associate and bachelor degree programs in nearly 100 departments, master''s degrees in more than 70 programs, and doctoral degrees in more than 50 programs. Enrollment for the current academic year is 24,000 students: approximately 18,000 undergraduates and 6,000 graduate students.