Dear Students, Families, Faculty and Staff: You have likely noticed the very positive data and trends reported on the Syracuse University COVID dashboard over the past several weeks. I call your attention to a few important data points: The number…
Academic Strategic Plan: Promoting Success in Innovation
Entrepreneurial thinking and the rapid pace of innovation are supplanting traditional organizational practices, reshaping the nature of citizenship across the globe, and changing the ways Syracuse University’s graduates interact in the global economy and society at large. For these reasons, entrepreneurship and innovation represent a key pillar of the Trajectory to Excellence Academic Strategic Plan.
Accordingly, since the advent of Trajectory to Excellence, the University has developed an actionable strategy designed to support an innovation ecosystem across the institution and piloted several significant initiatives under the broad heading of “innovation,” with many others in the pipeline.
Progress to date:
- The first round of the Cluster Hires Initiative was approved last October, and the University has already begun to hire top talent. Designed to spur innovation through interdisciplinary approaches in areas of niche strength, cluster hiring is a proven methodology to enhance research productivity and diversity in university faculty. More than 200 faculty members from across Syracuse’s schools and colleges submitted proposals involving 19 clusters, which were narrowed to 13 clusters for further consideration. Out of these 13, seven multidisciplinary/interdisciplinary themes emerged as strong clusters: Aging, Behavioral Health and Neuroscience; Artificial Intelligence, Deep Learning, Autonomous Systems and Policy; Big Data and Data Analytics; Bio-enabled Science and Technology; Energy and Environment; Innovation and Entrepreneurship; and Social Differences, Social Justice. With support of the Invest Syracuse initiative, funding has been allocated for 53 new faculty positions in the first round of cluster hires.
- The Syracuse University Infrastructure Institute, announced in November 2018, involves every school and college at the University. Led by Professor Laura Steinberg, former dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science, the institute will break new ground on developing talent, conducting research and cultivating thought leadership on global and domestic infrastructure. The first task will be to develop interdisciplinary undergraduate and graduate degrees in infrastructure, the first of their kind in an American university.
- The College of Arts and Sciences has launched several exciting new initiatives in discovery and innovation. Of particular note: The new BioInspired Syracuse: Institute for Material and Living Systems, led by Associate Professor M. Lisa Manning, brings together research faculty from such disciplines as the life sciences, engineering, physics and chemistry for research involving complex biological systems. They will be collaborating on the development and design of programmable smart materials to address global challenges in health, medicine and materials innovation. Faculty in the Department of Physics—Sheldon Stone, Duncan Brown, Stefan Ballmer, Britton Plourde, Liviu Movileanu, Mitch Soderberg, to name a few—are continuing to attract both significant funding and international headlines for their research. From soft matter biomaterial physics to high energy computational astrophysics, Syracuse University physicists are moving farther onto the leading edge in their subdisciplines.
- Syracuse University’s Blackstone LaunchPad—funded by the Blackstone Charitable Foundation—has seen tremendous success since its opening just three years ago. An experiential program for students, faculty and staff from all academic disciplines, the LaunchPad helps those interested in innovation, invention and creative approaches to entrepreneurship. As of April 2019, the LaunchPad has hosted 3,553 participants with 572 venture ideas. A total of $10.5 million in investments has been raised, along with $1.84 million won in competitions. And 65 ventures have been incorporated. In December 2018, the LaunchPad’s physical space in Bird Library was doubled and the Blackstone seed funding was replaced with permanent funding.
- With funding from JPMorgan Chase & Co., the Institute for Veterans and Military Families and the Maxwell School recently launched the “Veterans in Politics” (VIP) initiative. The first program of its kind in higher education, VIP will help veterans and military family members prepare for a position in public office or another form of political career. The program features online classwork and a one-week intensive residency. The first class will be enrolled late this year.
- The new Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Engagement (SOURCE) in Bird Library was dedicated on March 21. Under the leadership of newly named director Kate Hanson, the SOURCE will serve as a hub for student research, creativity and discovery. It is supported by a $1 million annual Invest Syracuse commitment. On April 4, an announcement was made of the first rounds of grants to 126 undergraduate researchers: 55 academic-year and 32 summer research grants, 16 Student Association summer grants and 23 Renée Crown University Honors Program awards.
- The Collaboration for Unprecedented Success and Excellence (CUSE) Grant Program, supported each year by $1 million in Invest Syracuse funding, is designed to support faculty in becoming competitive in securing external funding and sponsorship. Ninety projects totaling $1.67 million—51 in humanities, social sciences and creative research areas, and 39 in STEM research areas—were funded in the program’s initial round in 2018. Projects receiving 2019 funding will be announced by May 21.
- The Department of Entrepreneurship and Emerging Enterprises (EEE) in the Whitman School was recently ranked No. 3 of 497 schools in the 2019 Global Entrepreneurship Research Productivity Rankings. EEE’s innovative enterprises are numerous, including the Falcone Center for Entrepreneurship; Couri Hatchery; D’Aniello Internships; Panasci Business Plan Competition; South Side Innovation Center; the Institute for an Entrepreneurial Society; the WISE Women’s Business Center; and the Creativity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Living and Learning Community.
- Funded by a gift from Syracuse University Life Trustee William “Bill” F. Allyn G’59 and his wife, Janet “Penny” Jones Allyn ’60, the Invent@SU initiative—led by the College of Engineering and Computer Science and the School of Design in the College of Visual and Performing Arts—is helping students across the University bring their inventions to life. They learn about design, ideation and intellectual property, then build and refine their very own invention with weekly feedback from alumni and industry leaders. The program’s six-week, summertime immersive invention accelerators are held at the Fisher Center in New York City and on campus.
- Construction of the Bill and Penny Allyn Innovation Center begins this summer with infrastructure, utilities work and some of the much needed renovations to Link Hall; the work will continue during summer 2020. The center, funded by a gift from the Allyns, will serve as a vibrant hub for student services, creativity and collaboration within the College of Engineering and Computer Science.
- After a year of planning, the Burton Blatt Institute (BBI) is set to dramatically expand in the coming months. Having launched a unique interdisciplinary program, BBI’s new acquisitions of talent and expertise will enable the institute to expand its efforts to advance the civic, economic and social participation of persons with disabilities, and to collaborate effectively across campus.
- The Syracuse chapter of the World Innovation Technology Club (WiTec) is based in the School of Information Studies but open to all students who are committed to exploring innovative technologies in a collaborative entrepreneurial-focused environment. WiTec offers students cutting-edge opportunities to work on policy, standards, technology and business engagements. These often include collaboration with other universities; organizations such as Google and IBM; federal, state and local government entities; and international organizations like the United Nations and the European Union.
- Through its Public Sector Innovation and Management program, the Maxwell School is leading the way in educating public sector managers who can bridge the cultural differences between traditional government sectors and the innovative private sector. The program’s equips students to manage new facets of public service delivery that result from the tensions between these sectors.
- The Office of Technology Transfer will be adding substantial enhancements to facilitate patenting and commercialization of faculty and student research. This will allow the University to dramatically expand the impact of its innovations, deliver Syracuse University creative ideas to the marketplace, and provide new incentives to entrepreneurs across campus.
Innovation is at the heart of many of the University’s signature academic and noncurricular programming. There is a clear and compelling narrative, which needs only some internal coordination to become a strong point of internal leverage to make Syracuse among the best-in-class American universities working on innovation in cross-disciplinary ways. Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost Michele Wheatly and Vice Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives and Innovation Mike Haynie are working to define and further develop innovation interdisciplinary academic offerings as a principal recruiting tool for both traditional and post-traditional students. These efforts are focused specifically on:
- Trailblazing pedagogy: Enhancing the opportunity for all students, faculty and staff to experience various onramps to the innovative process through a campus-wide, experiential-based approach focused on building an entrepreneurial and intrapreneurial skill set that will serve all stakeholders across their careers, regardless of their primary field of study.
- Scholarship from humanities to STEM: All faculty will be supported in their pursuit of innovative research within their own fields and collaborative efforts across domains as the changing landscape of real-world problems demand a more diverse set of perspectives.
- Bridging innovation to impact: Faculty, students and staff will have the opportunity to transfer innovations directly into practice through a bolstered commercialization process focused on licensing, venture creation and corporate partnerships.