During a gathering of the region’s top business leaders, Wright State President David R. Hopkins announced that the school plans to transform itself into an entrepreneurial university and will be relentless in doing so.
Wright State hosted its sixth annual Regional Summit on Aug. 15, an event that attracted nearly 200 business leaders, educators, government officials and others.
“We have some of the best minds in the region in this room right now,” said Hopkins. “We need to dream big dreams. We want you to dream with us. We want you to help us understand how we can be better partners to make you more successful.”
The summit consisted of presentations by local business leaders and Wright State officials. There were also roundtable discussions designed to brainstorm ideas on ways to better drive prosperity in the region.
Michael Bridges, president and CEO of Peerless Technologies Corp., and Andrea Kunk, chief financial officer, explained how their company uses professionals with science/technology-based educations, including hiring them as engineers, database programmers, software developers, technical writers and others.
Peerless is a high-tech, military-focused research and consulting company based in Fairborn that in 12 short years has steadily swelled to more than 200 employees and operations in 10 states. Nearly one in three Peerless workers has at least one degree from Wright State.
Jim Leftwich, of Viance Partners and former director of the Ohio Department of Development, said much of the research conducted at universities is not being commercialized.
“There is a lot of opportunity that’s being left on the table,” he said.
Leftwich said Wright State plans to take its research in terahertz radiation and a web app called Twitris into startup companies that will employ the researchers as well as students with technical and business skills.
Other speakers included Christine Wallace, CEO of Cambium Technologies; Marvin Lefeld, CEO of Cooper Farms Inc.; and Jeff Hoagland, president and CEO of the Dayton Development Coalition.
Wright State has been responsive to feedback from previous summits.
For example, the university has increased the amount of research it does, created the Wright State Research Institute, is embedding faculty into local companies and helped develop a STEM school that creates a pipeline of future talent.
“Entrepreneurialism is the future of Wright State,” said Larry Klaben, president and CEO of Morris Furniture Company, Inc., and chair of the Wright State University Board of Trustees. “Wright State University can help re-create the entrepreneurialism that is the legacy of our great region.”