Public Release: 

Internet of Things Collaborative caps successful first year with additional $2.2M grant

CWRU, CSU initiative designed to shape region into digital innovation leader

Case Western Reserve University

The Internet of Things Collaborative (IoTC), a partnership between Case Western Reserve and Cleveland State universities, is bringing together industrial, governmental, educational, neighborhood and non-profit entities in the region to harness IoT's vast potential.

To continue building on the IoTC's early successes, the Cleveland Foundation has awarded another $2.2 million, one-year grant to the collaborative, which was created in 2017 to position Cleveland as a leader in digital innovation.

The new funding follows $2 million in grants the foundation awarded the previous two years to help establish the IoTC and attract top academicians and create research labs for the initiative.

"The foundation's initial support has allowed our universities to make significant progress in advancing research and working with communities and companies on practical applications of this technology," Case Western Reserve University President Barbara R. Snyder said. "With this new grant, we will be able to enhance our respective strengths and contribute even more to Cleveland's role as a true technology leader. We cannot thank the Cleveland Foundation enough for this additional investment in the Internet of Things Collaborative."

"What we are building here--together with Case Western Reserve University--is very special," said Cleveland State President Harlan M. Sands. "The Cleveland Foundation's generous, continued support is a testament to the significant strides our two universities have already made in impacting cutting-edge digital technology."

The Internet of Things refers to the massive interconnected network of devices and serves as the technology framework for blockchain and other future digital innovations. The IoTC is focusing especially on four sectors in Northeast Ohio: manufacturing, health, energy and municipal infrastructure.

According to some industry estimates, the number of IoT-related devices is expected to exceed 30 billion by 2020, and the economic impact of related projects is predicted to reach as much as $6 trillion worldwide within five years.

"Our continued support of the IoT Collaborative is indicative of the first-year success of the unprecedented partnership between Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland State University," said Leon Wilson, the Cleveland Foundation's chief of digital innovation and chief information officer. "Investing in our research universities to drive Cleveland's future in the digital economy is a proven model for economic transformation and makes it possible for our public sector to embrace technology in ways that enhance quality of life for Cleveland residents."

Late last year, the IoTC awarded five pilot grants to research teams at both universities as seed money for wide-ranging projects. Separately, CWRU and CSU have also funded additional IoT pilot projects from internal sources.

One such project teams Roberto Galan, assistant professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at CWRU, and Wendy Regoeczi, professor and chair of the Department of Criminology, Anthropology, and Sociology at CSU. They are developing predictive models of drug offenses and gun violence by studying diverse data sets--including information from the Cleveland Police Department and the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner.

In another, Christopher Wirth, assistant professor of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering at CSU, and Emily Pentzer, the Frank Hovorka Assistant Professor in Chemistry at CWRU, are developing IoT-enabled chemical analysis capabilities for chemical products and food processing. Pentzer and Wirth will create analysis tools for connected devices--possibly including smartphones--for manufacturing processes, industrial coatings and more.

Additionally, the collaborative has received four grants from the National Science Foundation totaling nearly $1.5 million and has $20 million in research proposals pending review and more than $12 million in proposals under development.

Such financial support has allowed the IoTC to:

  • Launch a bimonthly thought leadership series to examine industry innovations in IoT.

  • Influence the research and development of an "Industrial IoT Roadmap" by Team NEO (funded by the Burton D. Morgan Foundation), designed to help manufacturers deploy and integrate "smart manufacturing"--also known as "Industry 4.0"-- technologies, including addressing talent development.

  • Work on two neighborhood-based demonstration projects:

    • In Lakewood, the collaborative is using a novel platform to monitor road-surface and sub-surface infrastructure using GPS, vibration sensing and ground-penetrating radar to identify issues before they become catastrophic, such as an undetected water leak. In Cleveland's Hough neighborhood, a group of residents is being trained in the "Appreciative Inquiry" method to discuss how to build on their community's strengths and how technology might help make their neighborhood even stronger.

    • To help address the opioid crisis, the collaborative is studying the technical and administrative barriers to data-sharing with the goal of significantly improving how law-enforcement agencies and health providers collaborate.

  • Add faculty, staff--including those with industry experience--and consultants to the IoTC team. Included were two new faculty members and three new staff members to support CWRU's Institute for Smart Secure and Connected Systems (ISAACS), the body coordinating CWRU's involvement in the IoTC. CSU is recruiting two new faculty members and two staff members to support its Center for IoT Innovation (CITI).

  • Leverage the foundation's investment by raising $6.6 million in additional philanthropic awards for ISSACS and CITI. CWRU has designated 10 endowed chairs for ISSACS-associated faculty, representing more than $20 million in endowments, which generates more than $800,000 annually for faculty to use for students, equipment, conferences and other expenses.

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Media Contacts

Bill Lubinger, Case Western Reserve University, assistant vice president of media relations and communications, william.lubinger@case.edu, 216-368-4443

William Dube, Cleveland State University director of communications and media relations, w.dube@csuohio.edu, 216-687-2257

Alan Ashby, Cleveland Foundation media relations officer, aashby@clevefdn.org, 216-615-7591

About Case Western Reserve University: Case Western Reserve University is one of the country's leading private research institutions. Located in Cleveland, we offer a unique combination of forward-thinking educational opportunities in an inspiring cultural setting. Our leading-edge faculty engage in teaching and research in a collaborative, hands-on environment. Our nationally recognized programs include arts and sciences, dental medicine, engineering, law, management, medicine, nursing and social work. About 5,100 undergraduate and 6,200 graduate students comprise our student body. Visit http://www.case.edu to see how Case Western Reserve thinks beyond the possible.

About Cleveland State University: Founded in 1964, Cleveland State University is a public research institution that provides a dynamic setting for Engaged Learning. With 17,000-plus students, nine colleges and more than 175 academic programs, CSU was again chosen for 2017 as one of America's best universities by U.S. News & World Report. Find more information at http://www.csuohio.edu.

About the Cleveland Foundation: Established in 1914, the Cleveland Foundation is the world's first community foundation and one of the largest today, with assets of $2.5 billion and 2017 grants of more than $101 million. Through the generosity of donors, the foundation improves the lives of residents of Cuyahoga, Lake and Geauga counties by building community endowment, addressing needs through grantmaking and providing leadership on vital issues. The foundation's program areas include: arts and culture, economic and workforce development, education, environment, neighborhoods, and youth development and social services. For more information, visit http://www.ClevelandFoundation.org and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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