Gov. Otter lauds ISU’s partnership with private sector

1 Feb

by Chantelle Roy

Weather might have stopped Governor Butch Otter from visiting Pocatello in January, but he made a point to come to Idaho State University on Wednesday in support of higher education’s partnership with private enterprise.

Idaho Governor Butch Otter visited ISU’ newly-acquired research facility Wednesday morning to talk about the future of the university and what a facility like this means for the state.

Singing praises of the private sector, Otter said the new Idaho Global Entrepreneurial Mission (IGEM) wouldn’t have been possible without them. According to a press release, IGEM’s mission is “to create new enterprises and high-paying knowledge-based economy jobs by increasing strategic areas of research and development through targeted partnerships among industry, higher education and government.”

A bit of déjà vu, the launch was initially slated for last week, but due to bad weather conditions Otter was unable to be on site and instead held a video conference. He said he was happy to be on hand Wednesday to announce the launch and tour the facility.

The RISE building (Research, Innovation, Science and Engineering), has only been utilized by ISU for the past five months. Previously the Ballard Medical building, it plays a key part in the future of IGEM. Over the past few months ISU has started building an impressive body of machines, most geared toward nuclear energy advancement. That’s not to say the facility will focus solely on nuclear advancements.

“IGEM brings together all of our intellectual assets in the state, and that partners up with the private sector that needs that research and innovation in order to move their products into the next generation,” said Otter.

According to the governor, the coupling of industry and education has given the facility the ability to transcend disciplines and participate in a handful of other fields, including biomedicine. It’s this versatility that makes the facility so important. “Being able to focus on the needs of this great country of ours, with the purpose in mind that we’re just going to make a better world for everybody,” is the end goal, said Otter.

The launch of IGEM means several things for ISU and Idaho. According to Dr. Richard Jacobsen, director of the company’s office of research, the new facility means “improved opportunities for students” as well as “new strategic partnerships among industry, higher education and government.”

Guided to go slow, Otter said the combination with private sector investment has taken time. He said interest in the project has far exceeded what he initially thought, and that ISU has already attracted around $45 million in grants.

“We’ve proven our worth,” said Otter, adding that the IGEM project has garnered a lot of attention. “We truly can be a major player in the future in the global market place.”

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