Glass innovation hub poised to strengthen economy, jobs: 1,600 jobs new jobs expected at Perrysburg site


PERRYSBURG – Bowling Green State University and the University of Toledo will serve as lead academic partners for the newly established $31.3 million Northwest Ohio Glass Innovation Hub to solidify Ohio as a global leader in glass technology and production.

The Glass Innovation Hub was announced Monday by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine.

Contributing to the Glass Innovation Hub, BGSU and UToledo will each conduct unique, high-impact research that supports public-private partnerships, in-demand academic programs and workforce development in the growing glass industry.

“Northwest Ohio is world-renowned for its innovation and leadership in glass, and in further leveraging the power of two research universities, each anchors of our region with unique areas of expertise, this grant will serve as a catalyst in harnessing the advanced technologies of the future for our region’s glass industry,” BGSU President Rodney K. Rogers said. “This collaboration, led by industry and bolstered by higher education, will drive prosperity for our region and state, strengthening our future as the leading global hub of glass technologies, attracting talent from around the world and demonstrating the power and relevancy of higher education for a strong and vibrant economy.”

“From the early days of consumer glassware to today’s highly efficient thin-film solar panels, Toledo has been a leader in glass manufacturing and The University of Toledo has been supporting this industry through advances in research and development particularly in photovoltaics innovation,” UToledo Interim President Matt Schroeder said. “We are excited to leverage our university’s expertise and industry partnerships to drive the northwest Ohio economy forward and further position this region for growth through both research partnerships and educating the next generation of advanced degree graduates.”

Funded through a $31.3 million grant from the Innovation Hubs program administered by the Ohio Department of Development, the Glass Innovation Hub will build upon the region’s existing industrial and research capabilities and is expected to create 1,600 jobs and a $284 million economic impact during the next seven years.

The state funds will be matched by $10.4 million in cost-sharing funds from private sector industry and public sector universities, economic development organizations and community foundations.

Bolstered by BGSU and UToledo research and creative activities, the Glass Innovation Hub also is expected to increase state tax revenue by $25 million and produce more than 200 new graduates working in science, technology, engineering and math fields to meet surging workforce demands.

As comprehensive research universities, BGSU and UToledo will collaboratively work together to address industry-identified needs including expanding electrification of glass furnaces, improving glass melting technologies and performance, making glass recycling more efficient and expanding the use of artificial intelligence in glassmaking.

BGSU will lend expertise through top researchers in its internationally recognized Center for Photochemical Sciences and Departments of Physics and Chemistry in the areas of specialized coatings and applications in automotive, photo and electrochromic glass, solar and glass industries.

The BGSU School of Engineering will leverage its world-class faculty, robotics and advanced manufacturing technology to develop innovative processes that improve manufacturing efficiencies by integrating AI and machine learning.

UToledo brings the nation’s top academic solar energy research center with the Wright Center for Photovoltaics Innovation and Commercialization, along with a strong roster of research engineers and scientists from the College of Engineering and the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.

UToledo also is commencing a national search to recruit a top-tier glass scientist or engineer to UToledo to provide the hub with a leading faculty member dedicated to glass research.

Industry partners leading the initiative alongside BGSU and UToledo include O-I Glass, a leader in container glass; Owens-Corning, a building materials leader; NSG Pilkington North America, a major supplier to the domestic solar, automotive and construction industries; Libbey Glass, a leading glass manufacturer; and First Solar, the largest manufacturer of domestic solar panels.

Toledo has been known as the “Glass City” for over a century as the headquarters of several major glass manufacturers. Vital to the nation’s economy, glass is a foundational material in modern life and numerous other industries, including energy, construction, aerospace and defense, automotive, telecommunications, electronics and food and beverage packaging.

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