University Economic Development Association


ECU Innovation Design Lab

Award Category: Place + Innovation
Project Site: ECU Innovation Design Lab
Submitted By: East Carolina University
Contact: J. Ted Morris, PhD , 252.7371.341


East Carolina University’s (ECU) Innovation Design Lab (IDL) develops and administers programs that address critical needs relative to Talent, Innovation and Place in eastern North Carolina (eNC).  IDL integrates innovation, design and advanced manufacturing to offer programs that include: educational programs; training for educators, industry and military partners; support for entrepreneurial ventures; advanced manufacturing assistance for partners; and rapid prototyping assistance for partners and students.

The region served by ECU is largely rural, measuring below state and national norms for educational and economic indicators.  There is an exodus of young people because of the dearth of jobs.  A common complaint of manufacturers is that there is a lack of skilled talent.

IDL began in 2009 as a pilot program in 500 square feet to test the concept of using innovation and design methodologies and additive manufacturing (AM) systems (3D printing) to develop talent in Science, Technology, Engineering, Art/Design, and Mathematics (STEAM), initiate projects with industry clusters to address workforce training and competitiveness, and foster the development of entrepreneurial enterprises.  In 2016 IDL entered Phase II of its plan and increased capacity and programs with a move to 5,600 square feet and the creation of a state-of the-art advanced manufacturing facility that houses 35 MakerBot 3D printing platforms.  Program offerings have expanded and are provided to students and educators, military and industry partners, and the entrepreneurial community.

Phase III includes IDL as an anchor tenant for the East Carolina Research and Innovation Campus and a sustainable plan of operation.