University Economic Development Association


Manufacturing Sector Growth, Photonics Cluster Growth, and Entrepreneur Success Initiative

Award Category: Talent+Place
Project Site: Montana State University's Montana Manufacturing Extension Center
Submitted By: Montana State University
Contact: Alistair Stewart, 406.606.0050

Case Study

Montana State University’s (MSU) Montana Manufacturing Extension Center (MMEC) led Montana’s manufacturing ecosystem, photonics cluster, and entrepreneurs, to adopt agile strategy discipline, improve the state’s collaborative advantage, and accelerate and increase prosperity gains for communities. It started when MMEC partnered with the City of Bozeman to update the City’s Economic Development plan. The plan was unanimously approved by the City’s commissioners, which initiated training for 15 people by the Purdue Agile Strategy Lab in “Strategic Doing”. Strategic Doing workshops were then led by trained MSU professionals for the photonics cluster (Bozeman), regional manufacturing sectors (Bozeman, Missoula and Billings), and entrepreneurs (Bozeman). MMEC also led a state-wide manufacturing sector growth workshop in Helena. Over 300 people participated in 40+ pathfinder projects to (i) strengthen and grow manufacturing workforce/talent pipelines, (ii) improve safety, delivery, quality and cost performance, raise manufacturing wages, and increase Industry 4.0 awareness; (iii) develop video to advocate globally for the Montana photonics cluster and improve photonics quality, and (iv) improve 3-5 year entrepreneur outcomes.

Finalist Presentation

UEDA Awards of Excellence Finalists presented at the Annual Summit in Milwaukee on October 22 and 23, 2018. Summit attendees then voted for the best initiative in each category.