Through its close work with Virginia's Secretary of Technology, Karen Jackson, Halifax, Virginia was well represented during a visit to NASA's Langley Research Center in December 2014. Dr. Douglas Corrigan, Executive Director of the Halifax Industrial Development Authority's (IDA) Southern Virginia Product Advancement Center (SVPAC), Mark Swain, Co-founder of TMI Autotech, and Kevin Christie from the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center (SVHEC), participated in a day-long tour and meeting at Langley.

The purpose of the visit was to get a better understanding of the research and development assets at NASA Langley, and begin to form partnerships for mutually beneficial projects leading to economic development in Halifax and Southern Virginia. "Partnerships are something the Halifax Industrial Development Authority (IDA) does very well. We form and maintain productive relationships with our current business clients and mission partners," explains IDA Executive Director, Matt Leonard. "Research projects require collaboration to move to commercialization. That's what the IDA's SVPAC and Dr. Corrigan focus on."

"As a technology based incubator that works with hi-tech companies that are in the midst of product development, we are always looking for new partnerships and opportunities that can be of direct benefit to the businesses we work with," adds Dr. Corrigan.

TMI Autotech, a Halifax County based company that was just awarded an R&D Grant from the Virginia Tobacco Commission to develop and prototype a new high-performance automobile, participated in the meetings at Langley to explore if any of Langley's research in advanced manufacturing, advanced materials, and aerodynamics could be of benefit to their new project.

"Visiting NASA Langley was certainly an eye-opening experience for me," says Mark Swain. "They have tremendous assets that can assist companies like ours in the development of composite materials, or in the aerodynamic testing of their prototypes. We appreciate the opportunity to be included in these initial meetings."

According to Dr. Corrigan, next steps include meeting with representatives from NASA Langley in Southern Virginia to continue the discussions and to introduce them to other projects throughout the region that may be able to benefit through collaborative research. "We see this as a long-term partnership that can be mutually beneficial and a springboard to new opportunities for the region," says Dr. Corrigan.