University Economic Development Association

Awards Session: Innovation

James Madison University – JMU/BRCC/Merck Public Private Partnership in Workforce Development

Speakers: Nicholas Swartz – Associate Dean, James Madison University School of Professional & Continuing Education
Melissa Lubin – Dean of School of Professional & Continuing Education and Chief Economic Engagement Officer, James Madison University

James Madison University (JMU) and Blue Ridge Community College (BRCC) are collaborating with global pharmaceutical manufacturer Merck & Co. (Merck) to address Merck’s short- and long-term workforce needs through the development of a custom workforce solution. BRCC and JMU will establish a pipeline of biotechnology engineering and computer science talent that will allow the Shenandoah Valley to accommodate the future growth of Merck and other life science industries and manufacturers in their region.

What makes this project unique is both the relationship between the community college and university — stratifying efforts to meet the manufacturer’s needs—and the joint hire of a Regional Manufacturing Liaison (RML) between higher education and industry. Internship and externship programs were also created to further enhance the relationship between the institutions of higher education and the manufacturer. To date, Merck has employed 41 interns from JMU and BRCC and hired 33 JMU and BRCC graduates in either full-time or contract positions.

Learn more about this project here.


University of Hawaii Pacific Business Center Program – HITmethods: Growing Renewable Health and Economic Development Solutions

Speakers: Failautusi Avegalio – Director, University of Hawaii Pacific Business Center Program

HITmethods is a leading international healthcare management consulting and capacity building company, which delivered successful pandemic preparedness and response training and capacity building programs from the Ebola outbreak in West Africa to the Zika outbreak in the Asia-Pacific Region, to the current Coronavirus pandemic that is still affecting the world.

HITmethods integrates the local cultural norms and political-physical environmental impacts to build local capacities in collaborative partnership with the business/economic development technical support of the UH Pacific Business Center Program. Their weaving strategy integrates local health remedies and practices that support health security, self-reliance, and economic security with modern medical science, expertise, and technology. HITmethods experience in rural village, urban and coastal communities in Africa, Asia and the Pacific region includes the organic cultural perspectives that combines natural routines of daily life, with a sustainable focus on resiliency. This approach seamlessly links the economic development and medical expertise that engenders local confidence utilizing local knowledge, expertise, values and wisdom to thrive and survive in isolation.

HITmethods is currently one of the subcontractors to FEMA’s COVID-19 Vaccination Medical Staffing Services IDIQ contract. The project requires contractor managed medical professionals for COVID-19 vaccine administration in support of Federal assistance to state, local, tribal, and territorial partners. HITmethods has the lead role in supporting the State of Hawaii and the United States Territories in the Pacific: American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and Guam. Also, proposed a grassroots approach to COVID-19 contact tracing and case investigation, utilizing local community groups.

Learn more about this project here.


University of North Dakota Center for Innovation – Legendary Leaders In Innovation

Speakers: Renee Shelton – Commercialization Specialist, University of North Dakota Center for Innovation

The Legendary Leaders in Innovation (LLII) program strategically support the goals and objectives of the University Center for Autonomous Systems Innovation Grant awarded to the University of North Dakota Center for Innovation in October 2018. The grant supports expansion in the autonomous systems innovation cluster in North Dakota, assist with the commercialization of autonomous systems innovation and workforce development for the sector through internships and other experiential learning activities. In addition, the Legendary Leaders in Innovation program unlocks the best-kept secrets in North Dakota, builds awareness of the autonomous and UAS experience, expertise, and leading-edge research and innovation by promoting the “Why North Dakota” message on a local, regional, and national basis in real-time.

The LLII communication platform and app(s) are the vehicles utilized to build awareness and drive customers to news and information about the autonomous and UAS industry in North Dakota and worldwide. The platform provides customers a place to research, learn about the robust ecosystem that can support the commercialization journey, and link to partner organizations to assist with business needs. The LLII platform provides the Center tools and resources to help with the overall management of the customer experience. LLII, in collaboration with strong local and state ecosystem partners, has assisted innovation and entrepreneur customers who have created 46 jobs, 20 internships, raised over $11.7 million in start-up funds, and have $1.5 million in revenue to date.

Learn more about this project here.

September 20 @ 12:00
12:00 — 12:30 (30′)

Madison