STRATEGIC PLANNING

3. Invest Strategically In Research To Spur Economic Growth

The fall of 2010 finds researchers at Old Dominion University doing cutting-edge work in a string of labs and offices stretching the length of the campus.

“Discovery” is the byword from the Innovation Research Park (IRP) in University Village east of Hampton Boulevard, to the engineering and business buildings along the central Kaufman Mall, and, further west, to the cluster of science buildings. Breakthroughs also are being reported at off-campus facilities, such as the Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center in Suffolk and the Applied Research Center in Newport News.

This work shows that ODU is well along with the first phase of Goal 3 in its Strategic Plan: to “invest strategically in research.” There is evidence, as well, that the second part of Goal 3 is also coming to pass, which is to build up ODU research and breakthroughs “to spur economic growth.”

In a nutshell, this Strategic Plan goal is to: “Employ Old Dominion’s entrepreneurial ethos to create economic development impact by extending research discoveries and technology into business attraction and business creation opportunities.”

To complement and promote this entrepreneurship, the university launched in spring 2010 the ODU Business Gateway, which President Broderick calls a single consistent entry point to the intellectual capital, innovative technologies and world-class infrastructure of the university.

The mission of the ODU Business Gateway – unique in Virginia and one of only a handful such operations in the country – is to provide companies large and small, not-for-profit organizations, military commands and entrepreneurs a dedicated resource to help solve business problems, expand capabilities and create new ventures.

“Many of the structures, policies and approaches that make universities successful in teaching and research also make them quite difficult for businesses to navigate and utilize,” Broderick said. “It is my goal to make Old Dominion an active leader in local and statewide economic development by establishing it as a business-friendly solutions provider for Hampton Roads and beyond.”

ODU’s Business Gateway offers services matched to market needs, including business and entrepreneurial services, advanced manufacturing and industrial solutions, and special business assistance such as veterans business outreach, SWAM and procurement assistance.

ENTREPRENEURSHIP AT ODU

What makes up entrepreneurship at ODU in the fall of 2010? Here are some examples:

• At the Frank Reidy Research Center for Bioelectrics, engineers and scientists are honing in on ways to battle cancer and to perform gene therapy with the help of nanosecond pulses of electricity.
• The Laser and Plasma Engineering Institute is leveraging its already successful development of a hand-held device that shoots out bullets of cold plasma, investigating uses ranging from wound-healing treatments to Alzheimer’s disease therapies.
• Community health research has won financial and technical support from Microsoft’s External Research Group to develop mobile phone software that uses pictures to help autistic children communicate.
• Education scholars are testing new ways to help underperforming public schools and to turn out more special education doctoral graduates.
• Business college researchers are creating an ever more relevant regional economic forecast.
• Engineering faculty are working with a select group of universities nationwide on a project to boost the numbers of world-class naval systems engineers.
• Biologists and chemists are exploring ways to grow, harvest and process algae as a source for biofuels.
• Modeling and simulation experts are tackling transportation and evacuation issues, both of acute interest to Hampton Roads.