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ODU Renews Partnership with Statewide Higher Education and Economic Development Partners

Old Dominion University joined Virginia's public institutions of higher education Monday, Feb. 23, in renewing and expanding their commitment to economic development.

In a Richmond ceremony, college and university leaders signed a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP), the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) and the Center for Innovative Technology (CIT).

The MOU opens additional opportunities for partnerships and includes multiple initiatives, such as:

  • Increasing connectivity between institutions of higher education and business clients at all stages of development, including entrepreneurial, high-growth and mature businesses;
  • Building brand awareness of Virginia's innovation system and capabilities of its higher education partners;
  • Mapping strengths and opportunities between economic development and research across Virginia's public institutions of higher education; and
  • Identifying and supporting shared legislative priorities that enhance higher education connectivity with business-driven priorities.

The new agreement builds on a prior MOU signed in 2012. It expands the partnership concept by adding CIT and placing greater emphasis on working together on economic development issues. This expanded partnership is expected to increase corporate contacts and project leads, improve internships and direct hire opportunities for Virginia graduates and create a compilation of the respective economic development strengths of Virginia's public institutions of higher education, including research and equipment capacity.

"Virginia's economic strengths are in its workforce and business friendly climate. Partnerships between higher education and economic development are vital to our efforts to establish a new Virginia economy that is responsive to business needs and creates greater employment opportunities for our graduates," said Governor Terry McAuliffe.

Old Dominion President John R. Broderick said the expanded partnership reflects the University's ongoing commitment to be an economic engine for Hampton Roads.

"With an economic impact on the state and the region of more than $2.1 billion every year, Old Dominion University is keenly aware of our important role in helping to grow the economy," Broderick said. "That comes from not only our talented graduates, motivated students and world-class faculty, but also in strategic investments we have made as a University, such as the creation of the Strome Entrepreneurial Center in 2014, following an $11-million gift from the Strome Family Foundation, and the Center for Enterprise Innovation."

Marty Kaszubowski, the director of ODU's Center for Enterprise Innovation, said the MOU will help all Virginia-based higher education institutions.

"Schools can more effectively interact with their local business community and engage more fully with entrepreneurs, investors and our local and regional economic development organizations," Kaszubowski said. "Under this MOU, ODU's new Center for Enterprise Innovation will strengthen our connection to related organizations at other Virginia schools to share ideas and best practices, seek opportunities for collaboration and discuss issues related to academia's role in promoting economic growth."

Peter Jobse, CIT President, said the Institute is excited to be part of the partnership.

"Our focus is to promote innovation and entrepreneurship in Virginia and higher education is a key element to that success. We look forward to working with higher education to increase entrepreneurial opportunities," Jobse said.

Martin Briley, President and CEO of VEDP, is pleased to continue the partnership. "A key concern for any business looking to expand or locate in Virginia is to know they will have a well prepared workforce with the technical and soft skills they need. The outcomes of this effort will develop our reputation as a leader for meeting businesses' needs."

"Virginia has a strong higher education system. From our leading research institutions to community colleges within 30 miles of nearly every resident, we are able to offer quality educational opportunities for every Virginian," said Broderick, who is chair of the Virginia Council of Presidents in addition to serving as president of Old Dominion University. "Whether it is through innovative research, on-campus instruction, flexible online education and continuing education, we want businesses to know about the breadth of services we provide to meet their current and future needs and grow Virginia's economy."

Last fall SCHEV approved a statewide strategic plan that focuses on four key goal areas, including advancement of the economic and cultural prosperity of the Commonwealth and its regions.

"SCHEV's role is to support statewide initiatives by bringing together the strengths of our institutions. Virginia is a great place to work and live. We want our students to receive a quality education and stay here to work and raise a family. These partnerships promote that concept," said Peter Blake, director of SCHEV.

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