Public and private researchers work together

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The Jan. 16 letter to the editor "Taxpayers Should Question Pitt's Research" suggests that the future of innovation in our region rests on a choice between university-based research and R&D that happens in the corporate sector.

From my experience, that's a false choice. University researchers and corporate researchers often work together on innovations here.

An excellent example of that collaboration is the Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse, which combines university and corporate research efforts to bring innovation to market. The University of Pittsburgh, along with UPMC and Carnegie Mellon University, was a founding member of the greenhouse. Before it existed, our region saw about two companies spinning out of our universities every year. Now that the greenhouse is in operation, that number has increased tenfold to 20 companies a year.

The success of this approach should come as no surprise.

The Pittsburgh region is known for its commitment to public-private cooperation, and innovation is no exception. We are fortunate to have both major research universities in our region make over $1 billion annually in R&D expenditures and a total of 120 corporate and federal research and development centers.

As we look back over the last 30 years, we can see the extraordinary benefits to our region of combining our historic strengths in industrial innovation with our emerging -- and now established -- strength in university-based research. Our willingness to work together has helped diversify our economy and made us the vibrant region we are today.

DENNIS YABLONSKY
CEO
Allegheny Conference on Community Development
Downtown
The writer is a former president and CEO of the Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse.

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