University Economic Development Association

Awards Session: Innovation

New Materials Institute

Speakers: Crystal Leach,  University of Georgia’s New Materials Institute – Partnering for Sustainable Growth

Join us as guest speaker, Crystal LeachDirector of Industry Collaborations at University of Georgia’s New Materials Institute – Partnering for Sustainable Growth, shares her insights.

The Office of Industry Engagement (OIE) at the University of Georgia (UGA) was founded in 2016, with the directive to facilitate partnerships between businesses and faculty that align with UGA’s research capabilities and priorities. Establishment of this office was part of a strategic and intentional investment in the innovation ecosystem at UGA, which is reaping significant results. Since 2013, total research expenditures have increased by 30%, with industry-funded research increasing sevenfold. During this timeframe, UGA researchers have collaborated with over 350 different companies. True to its mission as a land- grant institution, UGA places a high priority on moving research from its labs to the marketplace. Their institutional commitment has borne fruit – recently, UGA was ranked No. 1 in the nation for bringing new products to market. Partnerships between industry and UGA’s strategic research institutes are a key lever for economic growth and development. One such institute, the New Materials Institute (NMI), has demonstrated the impact that these industry-academic partnerships can have on the local and global economy. Formed in 2017, NMI focuses on addressing the global challenge of persistent plastic pollution through multidisciplinary research, partnerships with industries and governments, and the training of young scientists and engineers. In just two years, NMI’s unique, holistic and practical approach to addressing plastic waste, coupled with a strategic plan for industry engagement, has led to 38 new partnerships, $13,913M of partner-sponsored research, the launch of one start-up company and 7 graduate students working directly with industry partners.

Learn more about this project here.


Speakers: Carolyn Fryberger, NCGrowth
Kara Stith

Join us as guest speakers, Carolyn FrybergerAssistant Director of Economic Development at NCGrowth, and Kara Stith, share their insights.

NCGrowth is a university center at UNC Chapel Hill that helps businesses and communities create good jobs and equitable opportunities through applied research and technical assistance. With a passionate staff and a dynamic pool of graduate student analysts, we partner with businesses, communities, governments and other organizations to tackle outcome-based economic development and entrepreneurship projects. NCGrowth is funded by the Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise, US Economic Development Administration, US Department of Agriculture, The SunTrust Foundation, NC IDEA, The NC Policy Collaboratory, and Z Smith Reynolds Foundation. Since 2012 NCGrowth has helped to create hundreds of jobs and worked with over 150 business and community clients. Learn more about our projects at

Learn more about this project here.

Hau’ula Community Resilience Model Village

Speakers:  Failautusi Avegalio, Hau’ula Community Resilience Model Village

Join us as guest speaker, Failautusi AvegalioDirector at Hau’ula Community Resilience Model Village, shares valuable insights.

The Hauula Community Resilience Model Village is a modular, scalable model that employs waste conversion in a unique process to produce high income commercial carbon, soil amendments for agriculture and food production, fuel, atmospherically harvested water and carbon credits. It is designed for island communities and integrated in their current economic development picture especially in the event of disaster.

Learn more about this project here.

October 11 @ 10:30
10:30 — 13:45 (3h 15′)

Mt. Rose

Crystal Leach – Director of Industry Collaborations