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Sept. 9, 2009
A crowd of more than 200 people, including elected officials, business leaders and senior Northwest administrators, gathered in the University's newly opened Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship Wednesday, Sept. 9, to hear remarks by Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon and celebrate the official opening of the 46,000 square-foot business incubator and high-tech academic facility.
Nixon praised the CIE as a unique partnership between private enterprise and higher education, and said the concept of combining the scientific and research resources of a university with the vision and energy of the center's entrepreneurial tenants holds great promise for economic growth.
"We all know that our state and our nation are facing economic challenges," Nixon said, "and we all know that we are standing in a place that is going to help get us out of that. This mission of literally having in the same building cutting-edge research and entrepreneurs beginning businesses is exactly how we are going to make this connection between higher education and the business sector to grow the business leaders of the future."
A scarcity of capital, especially in a time of tight credit, is one of the biggest roadblocks hampering the creation and growth of new businesses, Nixon said. "But by consolidating services and sharing this space, this center, and the businesses that are already here, are providing an exact example of how we can alleviate that burden and accelerate the development of those companies."
The governor spoke to CIE's academic role as a home for Northwest's new undergraduate degree program in nanoscience, a rapidly advancing field relating to structures on the atomic and molecular scale that can function like tiny machines.
A nanometer is a billionth of a meter, and nanotech objects are typically 100 nanometers or less. That's approximately 1,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair.
"This center is connecting young minds with knowledge and skills that they will need to excel in high-tech, high-demand industries," Nixon said. "By training students in the theories and principles of nanotechnology, we're preparing the next generation of Missourians to be innovative pioneers in the 21 st century economy."
Nixon lauded the efforts of two local Missouri lawmakers, Sen. Brad Lager and Rep. Mike Thomson, for their efforts in helping secure state funding for the CIE. Both were in attendance.
"These are two relatively persistent chaps," quipped Nixon, "and that is certainly their job and their responsibility. But in the times we're in, they had something really good to sell, and they had a unique vision."
The governor attributed that vision to groundwork laid by Northwest administrators, faculty and staff during the CIE's lengthy conceptual and planning stages.
"Isn't it interesting to come to a place in which people don't even doubt for a second that Northwest Missouri State University can deliver on every one of the promises that have been made here," he said.
Other speakers during the afternoon ceremony included Northwest's new president, Dr. John Jasinski, who said the dedication was a celebration of academics, knowledge creation and economic development across the state and region.
"We believe this facility is one of the absolute finest in the Midwest and beyond," Jasinski said. "We're celebrating its potential for positive impacts on student learning, regional growth, business prosperity and statewide improvement."
Jasinski also issued thanks to Lager and Thomson as well as to U.S. Sen. Kit Bond and U.S. Rep. Sam Graves, who was represented by staff member Chad Higdon. A $1.14 million federal grant allowed Northwest to equip the academic portion of the center with research-grade instruments essential for doing nanoscale science.
Thomson and Lager followed Jasinski at the podium with brief remarks underscoring the importance of strong partnerships between education and business. Also speaking was Mark Hoeman, a St. Louis businessman who is one of the founding partners of CIE tenant Carbolytic Materials Company and president of "virtual" center tenant Alyoop Inc.
The role played by Northwest in reaching out to both start-up companies was crucial, Hoeman said.
"We saw the vision that Northwest portrayed, and the leadership, and we trusted in that professionalism and that expertise as the University delivered on its promise of a quality facility," he said. "Today we all stand in proof of the state of Missouri's and Northwest Missouri State University's commitment to quality and to the growing economy of northwest Missouri."
In addition to Alyoop ( www.alyoop.com ) and CMC ( www.carbolytic.com ), which has a processing plant in Maryville and conducts research and development operations at the center, the CIE is home to two other tenants, health-care consultant Riley and Rabel ( www.rileyandrable.com ) and Practical Sustainability ( www.practicalsustainability.com ), which conducts chemical and biological analysis.
Carbolytic Materials Company extracts carbon black, a substance with wide applications in the plastics and rubber industry, from shredded automotive tires. Alyoop is currently developing software that will provide shoppers with Internet-delivered coupons selected to match customer-generated shopping lists.
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468