DAYTON, Ohio — An investment in innovation came to fruition as Emerson officially introduced its $35 million Helix Innovation Center on April 27. The 40,000-square-foot center located on the University of Dayton campus will serve as a commercial building controls and HVAC technology lab.
“We are a proud partner with the university in this endeavor,” said David Farr, chairman and CEO, Emerson. “It’s great when business and the community can get together to create something unique to solve the world’s problems and not be told by a government to do it. This is pure innovation the way it should be done.”
Leaders at Emerson intend to foster collaborative research at the Helix and use its resources to develop new technologies that address heating, cooling, and refrigeration challenges affecting homes, commercial buildings, data centers, restaurants, supermarkets, and other retail operations.
“The Helix reflects Emerson’s commitment to innovation, which has been the cornerstone of this company for more than 125 years,” Farr said. “It will help us accelerate the pace of innovation in the area of climate control and will help us tackle some of the largest industry problems we face today.”
For example, Emerson is currently working on a project specifically focused on how to quickly and accurately detect refrigerant chemical leaks in refrigeration and air conditioning systems. Emerson is leveraging its ideation process to look for new approaches to this challenge, which has global implications.
In July 2014, Emerson announced its plans to construct the Helix center and, 90 days later, the manufacturer broke ground on the project. The center had a soft opening in December 2015, and over the last 120 days, more than 3,000 participants have tested their industry intelligence inside the facility.
“It has been an interesting, challenging, and exciting project [that’s materialized] in a short time frame,” said Bill Bosway, group vice president at Emerson Climate Technologies Inc.
The modules inside the Helix include:
• A fully functional two-story, three-bedroom, 2,000-square-foot home. The outside chamber offers temperature simulations from minus 20°F to 120°;
• A data center module that will help deliver more holistic, next-generation approaches to controlling the data center environment and effectively managing heat;
• A working, licensed, high-density commercial kitchen that can feed 150 diners; and
• A retail experience designed to simulate supermarket and convenience store environments that includes refrigeration, dry goods, lighting, HVAC, heat reclamation, point of sale, and more.
The building also features three learning labs.
“This is a very important milestone for Emerson and the industry. We look forward to new things that come out of here and translate into great things for the industry and Emerson. It is an important and interesting time for us,” said Bob Sharp, executive vice president, Emerson. “Our aim is to stay at the forefront of innovation. With this building, we are looking at the entire environment our customers live in and not just the individual product and solutions we provide. These higher levels of solutions will take us to a new position.”
The grand opening included local dignitaries: Jon Husted, Ohio Secretary of State; Dr. Dan Curran, president of the University of Dayton; and Nan Whaley, Mayor of Dayton.
“Congratulations to Emerson,” Curran said. “Thanks for your leadership on this. We are so pleased with this building. It is a fantastic site. The innovation that will come from this space is exciting. This is where the future will be made.”
For Emerson, the placement on the Dayton University campus made sense.
“Our Climate headquarters are nearby in Sidney,” Sharp said. “We’ve had a long partnership with the University of Dayton. We have more than 100 graduates of Dayton over in Sidney in our company. We wanted to be near a college campus so we could draw upon young minds and students, and there are a lot of smart minds and good people around here.”
Publication date: 5/30/2016