Monday, October 6, 2014
Kinnick Stadium, McCord Club Lounge

On behalf of the University of Iowa, I welcome you to this exciting showcase. I also thank you for coming to hear about the innovative ways the University of Iowa is a catalyst for economic development for the people of Iowa.

We all have witnessed profound changes in the economy, in society, and in technology; in fact, in every corner of human experience. Not so long ago, who could have predicted a Google or a Tesla, smart watches, driverless cars, and pilotless aircraft? Who could have imagined how our social relationships would change and develop through Facebook and Twitter? Who would have fully realized how all these companies and products would transform the way we work, play, and interact with one another? Outside of science fiction writers, who would have imagined we might one day print human organs, or develop a capsule to swallow that would deliver medicine to just the right location at just the right time, or be on the cusp of curing diabetes and blinding eye diseases? And while this country has a long history of innovators and entrepreneurs, who could have guessed that someone with an idea and a dream could create an app, a medical device, or an entire company from his or her personal computer?

Nowhere is this potential for innovation and transformation felt more powerfully than right here in today’s research university.  Teaching, research, and service remain the foundation of our mission.  But more and more, universities, including the University of Iowa, are being asked to leverage their vast knowledge and expertise in the sciences, the arts, and the humanities to help create jobs and a workforce for a 21st-century economy.

In response to those growing expectations, four years ago I added “economic development” to the Office of Research. I asked the office to lead our institution in translating our learning, discovery, and engagement into innovation, application, and partnership.

I am happy to report that the university has made tremendous strides since then, and you will hear about some of these advancements shortly from Vice President Dan Reed and others.  I think you’ll see how deeply the University of Iowa is committed to economic prosperity for all Iowans by accelerating business and developing the state’s workforce. How are we doing that? By turning research ideas into innovative technologies that companies can use, by creating startups and jobs for our state, by solving business problems to enhance competitiveness statewide, and by providing business and IT training for a leading-edge Iowa workforce.

Fortunately, the University of Iowa isn’t new to innovation. From standardized testing to recycling apps to genetics research software, our faculty and students have a great track record of taking ideas to the marketplace and to the world. Like you, I’m excited to see what’s next in our expansion and acceleration of economic development for Iowa.

Once again, thank you for joining us, and thanks to everyone who helps make our university and our state so prosperous and vibrant.