WIST and Integrated Paper Services reach understanding
Brian Luedtke
"The agreement is between the Wisconsin Institute of Sustainable Technology (WIST) or essentially the university, and Integrated Paper Services, Inc. (IPS) to jointly market and operate services to the paper industry using the pilot paper machine and associated equipment with that machine," said Paul Fowler, executive director of WIST.

According to www.IPStesting. com, "Integrated Paper Services, Inc. is an independent physical testing laboratory specializing in personal care product, medical devices, non-wovens, fiber analysis and the pulp, paper and allied industries."

WIST has worked with and plans to work with Appleton, WI-based IPS for a number of years. This agreement is an opportunity for WIST and IPS to operate together in a formal working relationship.

"There is a lot of interest in some of the work from Gerry Ring in the paper science and engineering department. They have developed a way to increase the recyclable content of paper without making it weaker. There are issues that if you use too many recycled fibers the paper becomes less rigid. They are doing some work and testing on our paper machine to demonstrate that for the paper industry. So in terms of renewable resources that is a really important thing," said Erik Singsaas, research director of WIST and associate professor at the University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point.

Together WIST and IPS are developing a broad range of services and jointly marketing and promoting what they are capable of.
"Collecting their expertise and our expertise, bringing them together, being able to offer a much more substantial service to the paper industry as a whole," Fowler said.

One of WIST’s goals is to become less reliant on state and federal funding and increase income and revenue streams from the private sector.

"It’s another mechanism, if you like, for helping to diversify revenue streams on campus. The way to sort of increase private sector funding is to offer a service that the private sector wants to buy. And so we’ve been focused on demonstrating that there is a value in working with WIST to the private sector and IPS have seen that. We’ve already seen an increase in business from the paper industry coming to us and coming to IPS as a direct result of our agreement. That means more revenue coming into the university eventually," Fowler said.

WIST sees the agreement "as being the template for a number of other agreements that we could develop with similar companies in the region. We wouldn’t want to do another for the paper industry but in terms of analytical...there are little niches that we can sort of play to there," Fowler said.

This means a whole lot for students looking for valuable hands-on experience with the newest scientific technologies. The idea is simple: rent out equipment for a service or maintenance fee to industry. There are machines used once or twice a semester in labs across campus that could be generating income, or paying for themselves (cost of upkeep, maintenance, and operation) and the next newest version.

"It’s regularly used, regularly maintained, that works for everybody. It’s a model we would like to roll out step-by-step," Fowler said.