University of South Carolina

Fluor, SRNS invest $1.5 million in USC CoEE

Representatives of Fluor Corporation and Savannah River Nuclear Solutions announced a $1.5 million gift Monday (Feb. 28) to the University of South Carolina for the Center of Economic Excellence for the Hydrogen Economy.

USC President Harris Pastides, Fluor CEO and USC alumnus David Seaton and SRNS President and CEO Garry Flowers said the center will be the cornerstone of a comprehensive university-industry partnership among USC, Fluor and SRNS to advance the science, technology and commercialization of clean, secure, renewable energy and its infrastructure.

“Current global events are a stark reminder of the critical need for energy independence,” Pastides said. “However, that can only be achieved by bringing together the best and the brightest minds in industry and research through public-private partnerships. This gift today, along with state lottery funds through the Centers of Economic Excellence program, will help achieve this critical national objective.”

Seaton said the gift would help pair private sector and academic researchers to uncover innovative ways of bringing jobs to South Carolina.

“During our nearly 100-year history, Fluor has worked diligently through our philanthropic efforts to make differences in the communities where our employees live and work,” Seaton said. “I am pleased to be able to make this gift to the university that will enable the private sector and academic researchers to team together and uncover new and innovative ways of bringing the next generation of energy jobs to South Carolina and the region."

The funds will enable USC to recruit two world-class scientists for a Discovery Chair in USC’s College of Engineering and Computing and an Innovation Chair in the Darla Moore School of Business.

“This partnership will bring together great minds to achieve scientific and technological breakthroughs in renewable energy that can be transformed into viable business propositions,” Pastides said. “With the discovery and commercialization of new technologies and products, this center will have a positive impact on the future of hydrogen and energy research in South Carolina and beyond.”

“SRNS is extremely pleased to partner with our parent company, Fluor, and the University of South Carolina to create an endowment that will advance the business viability, route to commerce and market acceptance of technologies based on research and development with the Department of Energy,” Flowers said. “The university’s Darla Moore School of Business is a tremendous global asset and their perspectives and participation offer great promise to our companies.”

The Discovery Chair in USC’s College of Engineering and Computing will be filled by a researcher and leader in renewable energy who will create and coordinate joint research programs between USC and the Savannah River National Lab for developing technological advances in hydrogen and renewable energy technology.

These programs will range from seed-funded new initiatives proposed by USC and SRNL junior researchers to large-scale federally- and/or privately-funded initiatives involving multiple institutions and investigators, Pastides said.

“We expect these research programs to produce economically valuable intellectual property, new business opportunities and a highly educated workforce that will have an impact on the future of hydrogen and energy in the nation,” Pastides said.

The Innovation Chair in the Moore School will be a global expert in innovation, commercialization and technology transfer. The chair’s mission is to collaborate with scientists and technologists, translating discoveries from SRNS and USC into commercial applications.

The chair will draw upon faculty and student expertise in the Moore School from areas including consumer behavior, industrial organization, supply chains, domestic and global market analysis, regulation and (risk adjusted) commercial valuation.

Flowers said the partnership helps fulfill the Savannah River Site’s mission to establish a cooperative agreement with academic institutions to demonstrate renewable energy technology. It will also create a relationship between USC and the Savannah River National Laboratory, which up until now has been the only national lab in the DOE complex that does not have a formal relationship with a public university.

Fluor is contributing $1.25 million and SRNS will add $250,000. The state of South Carolina will provide matching funds as part of its Centers of Economic Excellence matching program.

“Today’s announcement is another example of how the General Assembly’s wisdom and vision in establishing the CoEE Program nearly a decade ago is continuing to benefit the people of South Carolina,” said Pamela P. Lackey, chair of the CoEE Review Board. “I am excited about the new technologies and applications which will come from this extraordinary partnership. Not only will this work lead to new investments and new opportunities for South Carolinians, but it will assure our state a place among the leaders in the drive to cleaner, greener and more sustainable power.”

The state’s CoEE program was established by the General Assembly in 2002, funded through S.C. Education Lottery proceeds. The legislation authorizes the state's three public research institutions, USC, Clemson and the Medical University of South Carolina, to use state funds to create centers in research areas that will advance South Carolina's economy. Each CoEE is awarded state funds, which must be matched on a dollar-for-dollar basis with non-state funds. The program also supports CoEE endowed chairs, world-renowned scientists who lead the Centers of Economic Excellence. By investing in talent and technology, the CoEE Program is designed to fuel the state's knowledge-based economy, resulting in high-paying jobs and an improved standard of living in South Carolina.

To date, 49 Centers of Economic Excellence have been created and 34 world-class scientists and engineers have been recruited to South Carolina to lead the centers. The CoEE Program has resulted in more than $375 million in non-state investment in the South Carolina economy and is responsible for the creation of 4,700 new jobs. For more information, visit www.sccoee.org.

By Office of Media Relations

Posted: 02/28/11 @ 11:00 AM | Updated: 02/28/11 @ 3:45 PM | Permalink