PLANTING ROOTS: MSU bringing entrepreneurial center to MCITy

Published 2:45 pm Thursday, March 23, 2023

Mississippi State University is relocating its entrepreneurial center to the Mississippi Center of Innovation and Technology in Vicksburg.

While discussing MSU’s growth and expansion at the monthly meeting of the Vicksburg-Warren Chamber of Commerce Wednesday, Julie Jordan, the university’s vice president for research and economic development, told members the center was being moved from the campus.

Later in her presentation, she told the group, “I mentioned that we were taking it from campus to downtown. Well, now we’re bringing it here.

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“I think, all of us, that these institutions really want to continue to grow what’s happening here in Vicksburg,” Jordan added.

Center director Ryan Gilbrech said MSU has just begun to move into the second-floor space.

Jordan said the center has had a long-term relationship with U.S. Army’s Engineering Research and Development Center and is developing a partnership with ERDCWERX, a partner with ERDC that has a mission to cultivate a vibrant business ecosystem by encouraging entrepreneurship and shaping successful alliances to innovate and commercialize technologies that support the warfighter.

Showing a diagram of how the partnership between MSU, ERDC and ERDCWERX will work, Jordan said the university’s job is to work with the other organizations “trying to connect those technologies and taking the technologies that are available and commercializing those is sort of the purpose and working with industry and entrepreneurs within this (defense) industry (through the Mississippi Research Consortium).”

The research consortium, she said is a group of Mississippi Universities — MSU, the University of Mississippi, Jackson State University and the University of Southern Mississippi — working collectively to support research across the state.

Jordan commended state Sen. Briggs Hopson, R-Vicksburg, for his support of the consortium and bringing MSU to Vicksburg, adding, “I think all of us know these institutions really want to continue to grow what’s happening here in Vicksburg. We (the consortium) are in partnership with what’s happening in MCITy and working with ERDCWERX as well.”

Jordan said MSU has expanded beyond its role as an academic institution to become a major technology center and it is willing to share that expertise with the region and expand its presence in Vicksburg.

“We drew a line to serve North Mississippi and it seemed like we would serve North Mississippi, from Mississippi State’s perspective, from a line at about (U.S.) 82 North,” she said. “Now, we drew this line from Vicksburg over to Meridian along I-20 because of the presence that we have in Vicksburg, and because of the presence that has continued to grow in Meridian.”

Jordan added that the university is expanding its role in health care in Meridian, including a new nursing program and an accelerated master’s degree program in nursing. And while Mississippi State is known for engineering and agriculture, it is an R-1 institution — a top rating as a doctoral university with high research activity.

Jordan discussed several technology programs and research activities underway at the university.

She said MSU hit $300 billion in research and development expenditures in 2022.

“We have continued to grow the amount of work, and I refer to this as a research enterprise, because this is external funding that we are bringing to Mississippi State and the state of Mississippi and to support R and D. It’s like a business in and of itself the way that we operate.”

Jordan said the university has one of the top five fastest supercomputers in the country, “And that supercomputer, along with the computing resources here in the ideal lab at ERDC (the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center) along with the computing resources at the Stennis Space Center on the coast, make Mississippi the fifth-leading state in the Union for computers,” she said. “Nobody in this country would think that Mississippi was in the top five in much, or even the top 10.

“I’m telling my other colleagues I have the absolute best job on this campus, because I do get to see all the amazing research and inventions and new ideas that are sort of emerging from an R1 institution,” she said.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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