Observer-Dispatch GUEST VIEW: People formerly from government can help
To quote President Ronald Reagan: “The most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”
The former president may have been correct, but now there are individuals who used to be with government but actually are here to help. They recently formed the CAESAR Group.
“CAESAR” stands for “Commercial Applications of Early Stage Advanced Research”. The group is primarily composed of former employees of the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Information Directorate in Rome who have undertaken
a retiree-staffed technology transfer function. That is, companies can leverage AFRL’s research and development (R&D) to commercialize products, or new companies can be launched based on AFRL’s investment in R&D. In both cases, the CAESAR Group can help.
The CAESAR Group is currently supported by a U.S. Department of Commerce grant through MVCC’s Upstate Incubation Accelerator. The Group’s lead, Frank Born, has composed a small team that collectively has over 100 years of experience in engineering, project management and technology transfer. Between them, they have nine patents through AFRL - several which are now licensed, evidence that they can navigate through the process of leveraging public research for commercial products. The CAESAR Group is undertaking innovative approaches to technology transfer.
One strategy is to expose entrepreneurial students from local colleges to the wealth of AFRL’s publicly-released technical reports and patents. With inspiration and guidance from the CAESAR Group, these students are using their business and technology backgrounds to transform AFRL’s publicly-released research into business ideas. The CAESAR Group may also provide a liaison function by connecting current AFRL scientists and engineers to those businesses that are aiming to productize AFRL’s research.
With their cognizance of the fast-moving field of information technology, the CAESAR Group can consult on adding value to a potential business idea.
On March 28, a Technology Transfer Summit organized by the CAESAR Group was held at the thINCubator on Broad Street in Utica. The theme of “Moving Locally Developed Technology to the Commercial Sector,” attracted representatives from AFRL, the Griffiss Institute, MVCC, SUNY Poly, Utica College, Assured Information Security Inc., Intelligent Automation Inc., Syracuse University’s Center for Science and Engineering (CASE), and the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at SUNY Poly. They shared their visions of how the availability of technology from AFRL can create a more vibrant economic ecosystem for the Mohawk Valley.
Roxanne Mutchler, regional center director of the SBDC at SUNY Polytechnic Institute, said: “We are very fortunate to have access to the resources of the CAESAR Group to stimulate private sector commercialization in our region. With their years of experience and expertise, they are uniquely qualified to assist industries and entrepreneurs in evaluating, accessing and advancing AFRL technologies.”