The Center for Innovative Technology, Virginia's $30 million bid for high-tech prominence, presented a report to its backers today, with President Robert H. Pry saying the CIT is "closing the gap" between university research and industry's need for innovative products.
As evidence of CIT's success, Pry cited Virginia's winning the "fierce national competition" for the Software Productivity Consortium, supported by 14 aerospace firms, which will be located next to CIT's headquarters near Dulles International Airport, and the recent announcement that Electronic Data Systems will build a regional headquarters nearby. Together those facilities will provide about 3,000 jobs, Pry said.
He said much of the initial effort of the center, opened in June 1984, went into selecting its 150 initial projects, backed by 50 companies, from among hundreds of proposals. It has funded research institutes at the University of Virginia, Virginia Tech and Virginia Commonwealth University.
CIT was created by the state in mid-1984 as a nonprofit, quasigovernmental corporation, run by a board of directors made up of representatives of industry, the state's research universities, government agencies and the General Assembly.
Pry continues to wrestle with how to explain what CIT is supposed to do. Today, after giving the center's initial annual report, he tried to explain it with a story about tennis shoes.
The tennis shoes of his childhood were "smelly footwear that rubbed the skin, never fit, just kind of flopped when you walked, much less ran." Now, he said, innovative firms have come up with "the successors to the old tennis shoe. You run in one, play racquetball in another, go sailing in a third . . . . Someone did laboratory and market research that buried the old tennis shoe and gave life to a whole new line of footwear products.
"Next time you lace up your aerobic shoes," he told an audience at the General Assembly Building, "think about the people at the CIT and their colleagues in the universities and industries. They are working for you to write hundreds, thousands of new success stories about new ideas, new products, new jobs in Virginia."