Stories of Technology, Innovation, & Entrepreneurship in the Southeast

Knoxville Business News Tennessee Mountain Scenery Background
July 24, 2023 | Tom Ballard

U News | Initiatives in North Carolina in the spotlight

Other news items include appointments at Clark Atlanta University and LSU plus the selection of the Purdue Center for Regional Development as the evaluator of NSF's "Regional Innovation Engines" program.

From Appalachian State University:

The Boone, NC university plans to begin construction this month on the first academic building of Appalachian State University’s (App State) Innovation District. It is the Conservatory for Biodiversity Education and Research.

Described in this article from the Watauga Democrat as the first of three buildings in the initial phase of the Innovation District,  the approximately 50,000-square-foot building will be among the nation’s first academic research facilities built to the rigorous sustainability standards of the Living Building Challenge (LBC). That means the building must generate more energy than it uses and be made of materials that are healthy for the environment, with all water captured and treated on-site.

The initial phase also includes more than 150 faculty and staff housing units, which will help meet App State employees’ housing needs amid housing scarcity and cost inflation in Boone.

“As the Innovation District develops, it will provide a thriving space where students, faculty, and staff work together with industry partners in specialized areas that capitalize on App State’s strengths and regional identity. Collaborations across colleges and disciplines will prepare students for career progression in a dynamic work environment,” said App State Chancellor Sheri Everts.

From Several North Carolina Universities:

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will award up to $50 million over five years to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) and Duke University to establish the Research Triangle Center of Excellence in Regulatory Science and Innovation (CERSI). The center will also involve collaborations with North Carolina State University (NC State) and North Carolina Central University (NCCU), a leading historically black university.

Triangle CERSI, the newest of only five CERSIs across the country, will work with FDA scientists to perform cutting-edge scientific research to better inform and support the FDA’s needs. The four other FDA-funded CERSIs include the University of Maryland, the University of California at San Francisco in partnership with Stanford University, Johns Hopkins University, and Yale University in partnership with the Mayo Clinic.

Faculty involved in the Triangle CERSI will include representatives from:

  • UNC’s Eshelman School of Pharmacy, School of Medicine, Gillings School of Global Public Health, and School of Data Science and Society;
  • Duke’s School of Medicine, Pratt School of Engineering, Center for Virtual Imaging Trials, and Clinical Research Institute;
  • NC State’s Colleges of Engineering and Veterinary Medicine; and
  • NCCU’s College of Health and Sciences, College of Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities, Biomanufacturing Research Institute and Technology Enterprise, and Julius L. Chambers Biomedical and Biotechnology Research Institute.

From the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill:

The “Venture Catalyst Program” helps faculty-founded start-ups at the Chapel Hill institution converge, collaborate and grow with the support of graduate students and postdocs. As part of the program, start-ups and entrepreneurial mentors and Venture Catalyst (VC) fellows – select doctoral and MBA candidates and postdocs who have a passion for new venture creation and support – are matched.

In this recent article in WRAL TechWire, Juliane Nguyen, Professor and Vice Chair at the Eshelman School of Pharmacy, shares her experience serving as a faculty mentor in the program.

From Clark Atlanta University:

The historically Black institution has announced the appointment of Nsenga K. Burton as Southern Regional Director of its National Center for Entrepreneurship. As part of a partnership with Howard University’s PNC National Center for Entrepreneurship, the center will support expanded opportunities for Black entrepreneurship through ownership, innovation, and creativity.

In this role, Burton will lead initiatives to establish or strengthen centers for entrepreneurship on historically Black college and university (HBCU) campuses in Georgia, Florida, Alabama, and the Virgin Islands.  Prior to joining Clark Atlanta University, she served as co-director of Film and Media Management at Emory University.

Click here to read the announcement of her appointment.

The Baton Rouge-located member of the Southeastern Conference has named a 25-year veteran of the technology commercialization and business development space as its new Director of the Office of Innovation and Technology Commercialization.

Spencer Rogers comes to the university from the role of Associate Director of Technology Transfer at Brigham Young University (BYU), which is described as one of the nation’s most successful tech transfer offices. While there, Rogers successfully negotiated more than 100 license agreements representing hundreds of inventions and patent portfolios.

At BYU, Rogers evaluated and licensed internal intellectual property assets, identifying and valuing commercial opportunities, negotiating license agreements, and managing patent portfolios. He shared his expertise with faculty and students in business relationships, contract negotiations, intellectual property protection, marketing, licensing, and entrepreneurship. He also provided advice on the role of licensing and intellectual property in business.

Rogers has also served as Chief Executive Officer of half a dozen companies, whose products ranged from business-to-business software as a service platform for human resources and a portable woodburning stove – both of which he invented.

From Purdue University:

The Purdue Center for Regional Development (PCRD) has been awarded a one-year contract to support the evaluation efforts of the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) “Regional Innovation Engines” program of which the University of Tennessee, Knoxville is the lead on one recently announced project.

The evaluation framework developed by PCRD will help the federal agency assess the “NSF Engines” program and its impact across the U.S. Findings gathered from this work will help ensure the program is sustainable over the long term and meets the goals as set forth in the “CHIPS and Science Act of 2022.” PCRD will develop a core set of benchmarks, guidelines, and metrics that all award recipients will be required to follow to illustrate the effectiveness of the program, providing the basis for the evaluation framework. The “NSF Engines” span nearly all key technology areas and societal and economic challenges highlighted in the act.


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