As both a land- and sea-grant university, UGA’s mission to serve its community is embedded in its DNA. That community not only includes Athens and the rest of Georgia, it also extends to our larger community across our country and around the world. To amplify and extend our service to and collaboration with these communities, the university actively fosters partnerships with individuals and organizations, including businesses large and small.
Indeed, strong partnerships with industry are critical for UGA to reach its goals, including our research goals. Industry partners support the research enterprise by providing pathways to market for faculty inventions, as well as funding cutting-edge research and scholarship to expand human understanding and drive innovation. UGA’s industry partners also provide valuable experiential learning opportunities for our students, such as internships and coops, not to mention hiring our students once they graduate.
For example, UGA’s longstanding relationship with Boehringer-Ingelheim has produced numerous, tangible outcomes that have advanced human and animal health around the world, provided rich experiential learning and professional development opportunities for UGA students, and helped to prepare the next generation of leaders in veterinary medicine.
To support and expand vital collaborations like the one we’ve enjoyed with Boehringer-Ingelheim, last year the university created the Office of Business Engagement (OBE) reporting jointly to the Office of Research (OoR) and Development & Alumni Relations (DAR). Led by Executive Director Kyle Tschepikow, OBE’s mission is to cultivate long-term, holistic partnerships with companies that help expand the positive impact of the business and our university. It focuses on three primary objectives:
- Connecting companies to programs and people across campus
- Facilitating university-industry research collaboration
- Attracting philanthropic support to advance UGA’s mission
OBE is meant to serve as UGA’s front door for companies looking to partner with us, while also providing resources, support and guidance to faculty who wish to engage in industry-sponsored activities. The office works closely with Innovation Gateway, Sponsored Projects Administration, the UGA Career Center, schools, colleges and other units to support a coordinated and strategic approach to industry engagement.
Physically located within the Innovation District (the innovation spaces at the interface of UGA and downtown Athens) at One Press Place, OBE’s joint reporting line to Research and DAR recognizes its importance as a connector, an organizer and a facilitator across the university. Through its activity, OBE will also work alongside our Small Business Development Center, Student Entrepreneurship Program and Innovation Gateway to grow UGA’s culture of innovation.
Indeed, if we are to grow that culture of innovation, we must do it collaboratively with our industry partners. They provide the vital pathway that connects many of our research discoveries with their practical application in the world. I’m excited about the potential of this new OoR/DAR initiative; please do reach out to Kyle at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions about forming or expanding partnerships with industry.
Wishing you a smooth transition to a productive and refreshing summer.
Karen J. L. Burg
Vice President for Research
Harbor Lights Chair in Biomedical Research