DURHAM – NCInnovation, the group backed by $500 million from the state of North Carolina that’s to focus on commercialization of university research, has named a chief innovation officer an hired four “Regional Innovation Network Directors” to help spearhead its efforts.

“This marks the next step in implementing NCInnovation’s model to commercialize university research, said Bennet Waters, the CEO of the Durham-based group, in Tuesday’s announcement. “The UNC System is second-to-none, and our job is to help translate university research into economic output.”

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Michelle Bolas in the chief innovation officer – a newly created role. She most recently led UNC-Chapel Hill’s efforts in research commercialization. The regional directors will report to her.

“[W]e’re thrilled at the talent and expertise these four Regional Innovation Network Directors bring to the program. It’s time to get to work,” Bolas said.

Tasks for regional directors as spelled out by NCInnovation

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  • Connecting industry, capital, and academia to inform university research portfolios and identify commercialization opportunities;
  • Monitoring and understanding university research activities to orient NCInnovation’s grantmaking opportunities;
  • Collaborating with university leaders to help translate research into economic output.
  • One director will be based at each of four “anchor” universities in different parts of the state, and will manage NCInnovation activities at other universities in each region as well.

The directors, base of operations and “anchor” universities are:

Mary Lou Bourne, Charlotte, UNC Charlotte

Bio: “Ms. Bourne has master’s degrees in Higher Education Administration and in Integrated Science & Technology. For the past 18 years she held senior leadership roles at James Madison University, first as Director of Technology Transfer and then as Director of Technology Innovation & Economic Development.”

Louis Judge, Piedmont, N.C. A&T

Bio:  “Mr. Judge holds an MBA from Winston-Salem State University and most recently led the Division of Corporate Education and Economic Development as Associate Vice President at Alamance Community College. Before that, Mr. Judge spent 13 years as Senior Licensing Associate and Director of Outreach and Technology Transfer at N.C. A&T State University.”

Meagan Coneybeer, West, Western Carolina University

Bio: “Ms. Coneybeer holds a master’s degree in Horticulture Science from NC State University. She most recently served as Director of Mentorship and Research for the NC School of Science and Math’s western campus. Before that, she worked in the biosciences industry and academia.”

Derrick Welch, East, East Carolina University

Bio: “Mr. Welch, who has a master’s degree in public administration, previously served as Chief of Staff at the New Mexico Department of Education, Program Director at an award-winning economic development and startup accelerator at ECU, and Staff Director at the North Carolina Joint Legislative Commission on Governmental Operations.”

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