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Technology takes center stage at Lehigh event

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Guests take a break to mingle during the Advancing Technology for Business Growth – Biotech and Biomedical Engineering program at Lehigh University’s Mountaintop Campus on Wednesday in Bethlehem.
Guests take a break to mingle during the Advancing Technology for Business Growth – Biotech and Biomedical Engineering program at Lehigh University’s Mountaintop Campus on Wednesday in Bethlehem. - (Photo / )

Technology plays a vital role in business growth, and at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, resources exist for engineers and other executives to capitalize on the rise of advanced materials and nanotechnology.

Nanotechnology involves the use of science and engineering at the molecular and atomic scale and has applications in areas such as life sciences, electronics and energy. The technology continues to provide solutions to real-world problems and pathways for students to explore careers.

The 10th annual Lehigh Emerging Technologies Network on Wednesday at Lehigh’s Mountaintop Campus started with discussions of the Center for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology and how it provides a simple way to gain access to the sites and resources at Lehigh. The day-long event featured a variety of discussions.

Richard Vinci, center director for the Center for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology, discussed resources at the facility, including a biomaterials testing lab, additive manufacturing lab, polymer lab and health research hub. The center is about to add a new large-scale metal powder printer to its metals lab and soon will have a 3-D focused ion beam sectioning and analysis device, Vinci said.

LIFE SCIENCES

Life sciences continues to be a growing career field rife with applications for emerging technologies.

The wealth of resources that exist in Pennsylvania for life sciences companies is considerable, according to Chris Molineaux, president and CEO of Pennsylvania Bio, a state trade organization based in Wayne that’s focused on promoting the life sciences industry.

At the event, he spoke about industry developments that can lead to job creation and innovation and how Pennsylvania Bio can help those businesses.

“We also facilitate strategic connections designed to help individuals and companies; our focus is on human health,” Molineaux said.

The state has more than 2,300 life sciences establishments, he said, noting that about a half-million people in Pennsylvania are directly or indirectly employed in the industry.

“We are an important industry in the state, but a high-risk industry that we are trying to support,” Molineaux said. “We also have fast-growing life sciences companies being formed by those who left big pharma and some who have moved here from elsewhere.

“Many of those former pharma executives have formed their own companies.”

TAX-FRIENDLY ENVIRONMENT

A key component of Pennsylvania Bio is to not only support the life sciences industry, but the research and development of emerging technologies, Molineaux said.

He also is seeking investment capital to support life sciences companies and open a satellite office for Pennsylvania Bio in Philadelphia or the Lehigh Valley.

Creating a tax-friendly environment will help attract more life sciences companies to the state, he said.

Furthermore, advancements such as the ability of companies to start doing DNA testing to prevent diseases and perform better data management through digital records will help make Pennsylvania a leader in health sciences, Molineaux said.

TECHNOLOGY OF HEALTH CARE

One of the important questions Lehigh University should consider is how it wants to establish itself with a vision for developing the technology of health care, said Anand Jagota, Lehigh bioengineering director for programs and facilities.

Concepts to consider include bringing the right approach to study and solve complex bioengineering problems and using devices, diagnostics and sensors and various materials and therapies, he said.

“A few years from now, we will have a sizable group in bioengineering,” Jagota said. “We have new facility development occurring in [Lehigh’s] Iacocca Hall.”

These areas include a health research lab, cell tissue culture lab, cold room and two flex labs.

“There is lots of potential for the facility to serve outside uses,” Jagota said. “We hope it’s the first of future investments.”

Other speakers discussed partnerships and programs to build students’ experiences in biological sciences, plus guests discovered insights from biotechnology companies, heard about research developments and joined a business resources roundtable.

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Brian Pedersen

Brian Pedersen

Reporter Brian Pedersen covers construction, development, warehousing and real estate and keeps you up to date on the changing landscape of our community. He can be reached at brianp@lvb.com or 610-807-9619, ext. 4108. Follow him on Twitter @BrianLehigh and read his blog, “Can You Dig It,” at http://www.lvb.com/section/can-you-dig-it.

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