Brown University has announced an initiative to further its economic impact in Rhode Island.
Dubbed “Brown and the Innovation Economy,” the strategic action plan is the result of a year’s worth of conversations with government leaders, community pillars and local businesses, as well as a host of focus groups. Virgin Pulse’s Rajiv Kumar, Medley Genomics’ Patrice Milos and Práctico Innovations’ Walter Callender are among some local thought leaders who presented at these meetings.
The plan highlights how Brown can marry its existing strengths with the goals of the state to spur R.I.’s economic growth, and includes action items that outline how the university will achieve these goals.
On the docket? Increased innovation infrastructure, encouraging entrepreneurs to choose Rhode Island as the HQ for their work and expanding the rate with with Brown and private industry interact.
“As we make additional investments that strengthen academic excellence at Brown and address pressing real-world issues through teaching, research and public engagement, we seek to do so in ways that have wide-ranging benefits to our city and state,” said Brown Provost Richard Locke in a press release. “This initiative bolsters Brown’s connections with public, private and non-profit partners and helps to focus our resources toward economic growth and job creation.”
The initiative has five major action items that we summarize below.
“Each aims to address one or more of the key economic areas identified in research performed in consultation with community leaders,” the release states.
- Brown Venture Founders
This element of the plan looks to keep entrepreneurs in the Ocean State, and is the result of a partnership between Brown’s Jonathan M. Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship and the Slater Technology Fund. It provides startup founders within the Nelson Center an array of grants, each worth up to $50,000, among other prizes and resources.
- Brown Biomedical Innovation, Inc.
Bye bye, “valley of death.” BBII wants to continue to help medtech startups make it through that difficult time between the end of National Institutes of Health’s financial support and the (hopeful) start of independent funding. Ending the search for a new managing director is on the docket for the end of the summer.
- Brown’s Office Industry Engagement and Commercial Venturing
In order to transition Brown-based research ventures into commerical ones, more commercial partnerships between those doing the academic work and those within their corresponding industries must be made. This element of the action plan looks to do just that.
- Rhode Island Innovation Hub
News of the proposed Brown, IBM, University of Rhode Island and MassChallenge Innovation Campus has been heralded since this spring. The goal is to create a 5,000-sq.-ft. hub within Providence’s Jewelry District. It would include an incubator for area organizations and “university-industry collaborations based on the models of the MassChallenge and IBM AlphaZone accelerators.”
- Working Beside Other Existing Innovation Moves
Rhode Island has already created and championed a good number of economic programs and initiatives that Brown wants to bolster. The plan specifically highlights Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza’s Anchor Institutions Working Group and the Brookings Institution’s “Rhode Island Innovates” report, among others.
Ultimately, the plan highlights ways in which the university and the state are just getting started with their collaborative process.
“The ‘Brown and the Innovation Economy’ strategic action plan reinforces and directs our commitment to statewide economic development, which has already manifested itself in projects including South Street Landing, the in-progress Wexford Innovation Center and others,” Locke said. “We’re excited to continue work with our community partners on these promising new ventures and ensure that we maximize the impact of faculty and student expertise across the academic disciplines at Brown.”