uscTIMES Stories, snippets & scenes from the University of South Carolina. Aik en / Beau T fort / Co l u m b i a / L a n ca s t e r / S a l alk is cheap in the buzzword-laden world of economic development. The only way to tell what’s genuine is to look behind the façade. At USC, innovation and entrepreneurial spirit are not simply slogans — they’re principles being put into practice every day by real people in classrooms, laboratories, offices, cubicles and dorm rooms. Perhaps more than ever before, there’s a belief at USC that taking risks and applying hard-earned knowledge in novel ways should be embraced instead of feared. e tc h i a h e k / S um Unio ter / Gro wing ecoSnC’s omy n / Upstat e 6/2 0/2 0 1 3 Q & A Bill Kirkland, director of USC’s Office of Economic Engagement The university recently started the Office of Economic Engagement and you’ll be heading that up. What’s the mission of the office? Simply put, the mission is to help grow South Carolina’s economy. The office will act as a single point of contact for any business or entity that wants to tap into the expertise and creativity here at USC. There’s tremendous momentum building within the USC system for everything from devel- About the Office of Economic Engagement In July USC will consolidate all local and statewide economic outreach efforts under one banner, the Office of Economic Engagement will: •S erve as a liaison to connect businesses with USC’s intellectual property assets; • Act as the coordinating point of contact for economic development organizations; •C oordinate with USC centers and institutes dedicated to entrepreneurship; •L ead the Council for USC Economic Engagement, a group consisting of representatives from USC’s eight-campus system; •M anage current and future Innovista district facilities dedicated to commercializing USC research, including the IdeaLabs. oping and commercializing new technologies to encouraging entrepreneurship and risk-taking. The task of the new office is to harness that momentum and better connect it to the outside world. What’s your background? Most recently, I’ve served as executive director and entrepreneur in residence of the USC-Columbia Technology Incubator. I’ve also “the mission is to help grow South Carolina’s economy.” worked in executive management for IBM and Pfizer; served as managing partner of Columbia-based LK Global Consulting, which provides early-stage companies with strategic and operational assistance; and president and CEO of Collexis Holdings Inc. I’m a USC graduate and my wife, Carol, and I have two kids, Jackson, 12, and Ella Grace, 5. Why should economic development matter to the USC community? We’re the state’s flagship research institution and have a special obligation to contribute to the quality of life in our state. Our fortunes rise and fall together. A stronger, more diverse S.C. economy makes it easier to recruit top faculty and students and also helps ensure that this is a vibrant place for talented graduates to live and work. What’s happening to Innovista? Innovista remains important and will become a part of the new office, but more focused on physical space for public-private partnerships. Selah Genomics, which recently moved into Horizon I Getting the ‘Idea’ research facility, is a great example of how those partnerships can work. The Office of Economic Leasing space to research companies brings centers at individual colleges dedicated to fostering student and faculty innovation, like the Faber academic and commercial researchers together, helping cross-fertilize thinking. The IdeaLabs are Engagement has a broader role that also includes technology commercialization, business outreach and recruitment, working with the USC/Columbia Incubator, and coordinating with various Entrepreneurship Center at the Moore School of Business. the only ready-built, wet lab space commercially Any final thoughts? available in Columbia. Selah Genomics moved When you look at all the intellectual capital and creative energy that exist on USC campuses — into the labs in the Horizon building this spring. from faculty, staff and students — the opportunity to make great things happen is right in front of Another tenant is targeted to arrive in July. us. I consider it a privilege to be a part of that and I’m very excited to get started.