POTSDAM — Clarkson University’s Shipley Center for Innovation has received a $75,000 to update one of its buildings downtown used by start-up manufacturing businesses.
The university will use these grant funds to outfit Damon Hall with a compressed air system.
The industrial air compressor will be outfitted to provide air through pipes throughout the entire building, and is critical to the operations of tenants like the manufacturing company LC Drives, which uses the space to build motors that are half the size and more efficient than current leading motor designs.
Russel H. Marvin, CEO of LC Drives and a 1988 Clarkson graduate, said he returned to the area a few years ago and presented an idea for a new company to Clarkson’s Shipley Center for Innovation.
LC Drives has since moved into the first and second floor of the multi-story Damon Hall to increase production.
“We’re a new company that has developed some interesting motor and generator technology that allows motors to be smaller,” he said. “We believe that ultimately that will result in the next generation of electric motors. And now we’re having to reinvent the entire manufacturing process to make this all work.”
The compressed air system will be installed in the basement of Damon Hall, and will provide long-term benefits to other manufacturing companies in the region. Damon Hall — a building once used for classrooms and offices that has been vacant for the past two decades — recently transformed into a production hub for start-up manufacturing businesses. Renovations to Damon Hall began in summer 2016 to provide technology and amenities for start-up, industrial-level production companies.
Jamey O. Hoose, director for Clarkson’s Shipley Center for Innovation, said he hopes Damon Hall will be the future location for several local manufacturing businesses and start-up companies in Potsdam and the north country. So far, LC Drives is the only manufacturing company occupying space in Damon Hall, but Mr. Hoose said there are several interested companies vying for the type of open space Damon Hall provides. He said the compressed air system will provide an additional incentive for manufacturing businesses looking for production space.
“When other companies come in, or if (Mr. Marvin) decides to expand his business, they can all utilize the same shared services within the floor plan,” Mr. Hoose said. “It’s good for (Mr. Marvin) and it’s also good for us in the long term.”
The compressed air system will be installed by the end of 2017.
The $75,000 grant is part of a larger fund set up by FuzeHub, a not-for-profit organization that assists manufacturing companies in New York state by pairing them with technical and business resources. The Jeff Lawrence Manufacturing Innovation Fund, consisting of $1 million annually for five years, supports a set of activities designed to spur technology development and commercialization across the state.
As part of the fund, grants are available to not-for-profit organizations in the state proposing projects to be undertaken with small and mid-sized manufacturers or early stage companies.