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A $915,000 federal economic development grant for Hampton Roads includes funding to promote business incubation and other work of Old Dominion University's Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center (VMASC).

The grant from the Commerce Department's Economic Development Administration (EDA) will be administered by the Hampton Roads Research Partnership, which hope to spur growth in three clusters: modeling and simulation, bioscience and sensors.

With the grant, which was announced Thursday, March 22, the region will seek high-paying technology-sector jobs to offset recent job losses from military and industry cutbacks, including the pending closing of the Ford Plant in Norfolk.

ODU will oversee the grant's modeling and simulation cluster. VMASC, which is in the so-called "Sim City" section of northern Suffolk together with military and industry facilities involved in modeling and simulation, has been educating workers, performing research and facilitating business startups for nearly a decade.

Modeling and simulation, according to recent studies, contributes more than $400 million a year to the Hampton Roads economic output. Regional authorities hope the sector will double in size over the next few years.

"The grant will allow ODU and its partner institutions to push further the regional modeling, simulation and visualization agenda," said Mohammad Karim, ODU vice president for research. He noted that VMASC will get about $400,000 per year for the next two years from the EDA monies and matching funds.

ODU also will play significant roles in the work of the bioscience and sensors clusters, according to Karim. The bioscience effort will be overseen by Eastern Virginia Medical School and the sensors effort by The College of William and Mary.

Hampton Roads Partnership, the parent organization of the research partnership, is a public-private group that promotes regional development. Lee Beach, the research partnership's executive director, said some of the money will go toward augmenting the salaries of faculty researchers whose projects help to create jobs in the region.

This article was posted on: March 23, 2007

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