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New COTSWORKS R&D Center Will Be a FORCE in Aerospace Optoelectronics

Investment opens door for technology innovation in Highland Heights, Ohio

Wed Feb 06 2019

In order for companies to soar, they need innovation to take flight. For Ohio-based COTSWORKS, pursuing innovation in flight is why the company aimed to build a research and development (R&D) facility.

COTSWORKS — a designer and manufacturer of rugged optical components for the commercial aerospace, military and industrial product markets — faced heavy competition primarily from international companies. Driven by this competitive pressure, COTSWORKS needed to reduce supply chain setbacks and attract a greater amount of attention and investment from customers.

The company connected with JobsOhio to support its R&D goals. COTSWORKS received a $1.2 million JobsOhio R&D Center Grant to help build an R&D facility known as FORCE, or Fiber Optic Research Center of Excellence. FORCE’s development will retain 73 jobs and create an additional eight.

“A total of $4.1 million will be invested in the design and innovative development of optical components and subsystems for harsh environments,” said Ken Applebaum, CEO of COTSWORKS. “COTSWORKS is excited and appreciative of the support from JobsOhio for the development of [FORCE]. With this center, we will create new engineering positions over the next several years focusing our research efforts on advanced optical packaging. This will enable COTSWORKS to continue to grow its high-tech manufacturing presence in Northeast Ohio.”

FORCE encompasses the design of new products and product enhancements that will support COTSWORKS’ future as it improves supply chain control, enhances quality management, and enables in-house customization and innovation. Ultimately, FORCE will decrease the time it takes for new technologies to get to market.

“We are pleased to see COTSWORKS invest in the FORCE R&D Center, ensuring continued growth at its Highland Heights headquarters,” said Glenn Richardson, JobsOhio managing director for advanced manufacturing, aerospace and aviation. “This Northeast Ohio high-tech center will keep COTSWORKS on the leading edge of avionic communication systems providing its customers worldwide with the latest in advanced optical components technology.”

Founded in 2006, COTSWORKS has averaged double-digit growth each year for more than a decade from substantial demand for its optoelectronic and fiber optic interconnect products worldwide. Customers include industry leaders such as Boeing Corp. and the Lockheed
Martin Corp.

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