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January 25, 2023 | Tom Ballard

Florida State program could be model for rural communities in Tennessee

A program at Florida State University is focusing on the same needs as Tennessee.

Stuart McWhorter, Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, said in a presentation at a recent meeting of the East Tennessee Economic Council that addressing the needs of rural communities continues to be a top priority.

With that context, we came across a program named “Collaborative Collision” at Florida State University (FSU) that is focused on that same need. Six teams of FSU researchers and community partners faced off in the most recent competition for the chance to win up to $100,000 from the university’s Office of Research for projects exploring solutions to complex challenges facing rural communities.

Launched in 2016, the “Collaborative Collision” program brings FSU researchers and community partners together around a common topic and helps them form research groups based on their interests. The teams participate in a 10-week development program with the Office of Research Development (ORD), and then pitch their ideas to a panel with the hopes of taking home seed funding to jumpstart their project.

“Teams start off as strangers from very different backgrounds who are drawn together by a common interest in a complex problem,” said Evangeline Coker, Research Development Coordinator for ORD. “Through the semester, they grow together and explore how they can use their unique skills to create something new. It’s a true interdisciplinary effort. It’s exciting to see how they’ve grown into cohesive teams around such diverse rural innovation topics.”

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