The vice president of research and economic development at the University of Iowa is promising a “much more muscular” relationship with state and local economic development organizations.
“We’ve been a partner for years, but we’ve got to do some new things and we’re going to make a difference in new ways,” said Daniel Reed in a keynote speech Thursday for the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance annual meeting at Hawkeye Downs.
“In a knowledge world, those who win are the ones who are faster, more nimble or creative,” said Reed, contending that colleges and universities have changed over the centuries to adjust to what is happening in the world outside of academia.
Reed said higher education is encountering another “inflection point” in which its relationship with society is changing profoundly.
“It’s about how we much more rapidly create knowledge and transfer that knowledge into practice,” Reed said. “It’s about how we shift the dynamics of higher education in partnership with our community and junior colleges for life-long education.
“The notion of a much more active life-long relationship between the university and the private sector is one of the things I believe is in real flux. It involves how we think about economic development, regional competitiveness, and how we become active partners in solving real societal problems.”
Reed said universities need to respond more quickly to real world issues on a time scale that is relevant to business.
“If we’re going to partner with business as an academic institution, we have to embrace business sensibilities,” he said. “We have to understand the time value of money, the value of talent, and the ethos that drives the actions of entrepreneurs as well as small-, large- and medium-size companies.
“We have to educate our faculty, staff and students about what it means to live in that world.”
UI is taking an inventory of its intellectual property to determine how to work with businesses to help them grow, he said. He added that the university will continue to look for more effective ways to license and transfer individual and group intellectual property.
In opening remarks, Dee Baird, president and CEO of the Alliance, told the more than 600 attendees that many things were accomplished in the organization first year of operation.
“We made 177 contacts with business prospects in the target areas of bioprocessing and food ingredients, logistics and distribution, food processing, process manufacturing, electronic equipment, wind energy, insurance, financial services and information technology,” Baird said. “We assisted 17 companies in retaining 63 jobs and creating 1,379 new jobs and new capital investment of $123.4 million.”
Baird said the Alliance is working with 27 active projects in which decisions expected over the next year could create 2,227 new jobs and $516.5 million of new capital investment.
“While we are proud of what has been accomplished in our first year, much work remains,” Baird said.