Since 1972, the National Science Foundation’s Industry University Cooperative Research Center program has been uniting private firms and academic institutions in setting up university centers that aim to conduct industrially relevant research. While over the years new products occasionally have resulted from these collaborations, until six weeks ago no IUCRC had ever spun off an entirely new manufacturing facility. But on October 30, a Philadelphia-based firm opened a plastics-recycling plant that incorporates a process deyeloped at Rutgers University’s NSF-sponsored Center for Plastics Recycling Research. The Bridgeport, N.J., plant is expected to recycle between 30 million and 50 million pounds of plastic annually.

While NSF administrators are pleased with this demonstration of their program’s potential, they stress that the creation of a manufacturing facility has never been—and still isn’t—its ultimate aim. “The goal of our centers is to support research and graduate students at the university,” says NSF program officer Alex...

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