Business promoters in Peoria are trying to tout their region as “innovative.” The Heartland Partnership, an umbrella over the local Chamber of Commerce and other economic development groups, has crafted an “economic scorecard” showing its success against communities such as Madison, Wis. and Lexington, Ky.
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The field of 12 communities shows Peoria fourth in innovation and third in the number of patents issued. “We have a lot of knowledge workers, Ph.D. research scientists, who, as part of their job at the (USDA) lab, or Caterpillar, or within the medical community, or Bradley (University) as well, that are looking for new and innovative technologies,” says Kip McCoy, chief operating officer at the partnership.
“That attracts other knowledge workers, who, maybe while they’re working at another company, see a need or a niche that can be filled, and have the technical expertise to maybe start their own company.” The area’s “Peoria NEXT” business incubator is turning out new companies which have patented a number of things, as outlined by McCoy’s group:
Lumec Control Products: U.S. patent no. 8,132,783 granted on March 13, 2012 for the mechanical arrangement and mechanism which enables our iris diaphragm-style valve to seal, effectively controlling fluid flow through the device. Lumec’s most recent patent filing was in 2008 and it is currently in the approval phase.
ZuChem: U.S. patent no. 7,977,083 “Method for microbial production of Xylitol from Arabinose” and U.S. patent no. 7,960,152 “Methods for production of Xylitol in microorganisms” were both granted in 2011. U.S. patent no. AU2005254940 “Methods for production of Xylitol in microorganisms” was granted in 2010. ZuChem has many patents still going through the approval process.
Ecothermics: U.S. patent no. 7,794,212 was issued Sept. 14, 2010 for “Multi-Piston Pump/Compressor” and U.S. patent no. 7,841,205 was issued Nov. 30, 2010 for “Integrated Compressor/Expansion Engine.” EcoThermics has a total of five pending patent applications.
Endotronix: U.S. patent no. 8,154,389 was issued April 10, 2012 for a wireless sensor reader. Endotronix also has other patents pending.
Peoria NEXT is not batting 1.000. An inaugural tenant did not go far. “Firefly (Energy), a battery company that was a Caterpillar spinout, did go through bankruptcy a couple of years ago,” McCoy said. “That technology, and the company, (were) brought out of bankruptcy by an Indian company that makes scooters and similar types of vehicles.”