Mississippi State University increasing presence in Vicksburg’s technology and start-up sector
Published 2:19 pm Thursday, December 15, 2022
Mississippi State University is expanding its presence in Vicksburg and helping grow the city’s technology and start-up sector.
Utilizing $650,000 in funding from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the MSU Center for Entrepreneurship and Outreach is establishing an office in Vicksburg at the Sen. Thad Cochran Mississippi Center for Information and Technology, commonly known as MCITy. The MSU Office of Technology Management will also have a full-time presence at MCITy as part of a state-funded Mississippi Research Consortium effort to enhance technology transfer efforts and research collaborations with the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) and other federal partners.
“We are excited to be a part of the movement to grow Vicksburg’s advanced technology and entrepreneurship presence, and I appreciate our state legislature and congressional delegation supporting these projects” said MSU Vice President for Research and Economic Development Julie Jordan. “MSU has had several successful research collaborations in Vicksburg over the years thanks to our long-standing relationship with ERDC. These two projects take our presence in the city to another level as we work with local partners and entrepreneurs to broaden the impact of the immense research activity taking place in our state.”
The Mississippi Research Consortium consists of MSU, Jackson State University, the University of Southern Mississippi and the University of Mississippi. Earlier this year, the Mississippi Legislature allocated $1 million in funding toward MRC institutions to support technology transfer and entrepreneurial programs related to federal research taking place in Mississippi.
“We are proud to welcome the MSU Center for Entrepreneurship and Outreach to MCITy,” said Pablo Diaz, President and CEO of the Vicksburg-Warren Partnership. “They are recognized across the state for the effectiveness of their programs as they help bright entrepreneurs develop their ideas into properly funded businesses. They, like ERDCWERX and all the other key partners at MCITy, are essential to fulfilling the mission of this transformative community project (MCITy).”
The funding and personnel that MSU has hired will enhance the relationship between Vicksburg-based ERDC and ERDCWERX, a technology commercialization partner of ERDC. Tasha Bibb, a former director of entrepreneurial development and ecosystem builder with Innovate Mississippi, joined the MSU Office of Technology Management as a senior program manager to serve as the university’s tech transfer support in Vicksburg.
“Tasha has spent the last 16 years promoting entrepreneurship and advanced technology in Mississippi,” said Jeremy Clay, Office of Technology Management director. “She has a great track record of helping people turn ideas into successful companies and building partnerships that improve our state. I am excited to have her on the team as we work with ERDC and our colleagues from the other MRC institutions to drive innovation-based economic activity in Vicksburg and across the state.”
Eric Hill, director of MSU’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Outreach, said having a presence in Vicksburg compliments the E-Center’s strategic plan of making entrepreneurial support accessible to all Mississippians. Ryan Gilbrech has joined the E-Center as a senior program manager based in Vicksburg. Gilbrech founded a company, Meta Games, as a student at MSU that would go on to become the first E-Center-supported startup to receive capital investments from the Bulldog Angel Network.
“There is a lot of great research that happens in Vicksburg, but there is still limited support for helping the technology that emerges from that research become a startup company,” Hill said. “MSU has a history of doing that for entrepreneurs and helping them form tech companies, so Vicksburg seemed like a perfect place for us to help grow an ecosystem that supports tech entrepreneurship, whether it is related to technology emerging from ERDC, MSU or somewhere else. With Ryan’s history of starting a successful company and being involved in our work here at the E-Center, he is a great fit to lead this effort.”
MSU’s presence in Vicksburg also includes the Institute for Systems Engineering Research, which was created by ERDC and MSU in 2014. MSU and ERDC have collaborated on dozens of research projects in areas of mutual expertise and capability such as high-performance computing, materials science, military engineering, autonomous systems, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence and machine learning, among others. Additionally, ERDC is among the largest employers of MSU engineering graduates.