July 20, 2017  

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Southern Miss Tech-Based Economic Development Expert Participates in International Roundtable

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Robbie Ingram speaking at Forum Plastipolis 2016.

Robbie Ingram, Manager of The University of Southern Mississippi’s Innovation and Commercialization Accelerator, shared his expertise in technology-based economic development as a participant in an international roundtable held last month in Lyon, France.

The roundtable was part of Forum Plastipolis 2016, the 6th edition of the international conference on polymers and composites, coordinated by the French competitiveness cluster, Plastipolis. The theme of this year’s conference was “Heading Towards 2020” with the focus on:

  • New polymer and composite materials and processes
  • Key technologies of the future
  • Financing and growing innovative businesses
  • Identifying high-potential market opportunities
  • European and international cooperation

Ingram attended the conference in 2014 and 2015. This year he was asked to participate in a roundtable discussion on “Collaboration: The Future of Industry.” The panel included experts from Italy, Germany, Canada, and France.

“I was honored to have been invited to represent USM on a panel of esteemed representatives from leading international organizations,” said Ingram. “To have been able to inform such a diverse group of international organizations about USM’s leadership in research, education, and technology-based economic development was a great opportunity. The response from the attendees was very enthusiastic.”

At the conference Ingram had the opportunity to present USM's School of Polymers and High Performance Materials, the Mississippi Polymer Institute (MPI), and The Accelerator to more than 300 companies, research institutions, and universities. In addition, he showcased the (Professor Jeff) Wiggins Research Group’s collaboration with Boeing in the development of next-generation aerospace composites and highlighted USM’s outreach in international education and collaboration.

USM and Plastipolis have been collaborating since 2012 in the effort to drive international research partnerships, student exchanges, tech transfer, and business opportunities. Two grant submissions have been made to the European Commission between USM groups and Plastipolis members within the past year as a direct result of this ongoing collaboration.

“Through various follow-up conversations after the panel, I came to realize how unique our University’s model in tech-based economic development is compared to European models,” said Ingram.

In 2012, Ingram spearheaded a successful initiative to have MPI included as one of two North American members of the Worldwide Intercluster Initiative for New Materials and Processes Focused on Clean Technology (WIINTECH), a European Commission sponsored initiative involving nine clusters from eight European nations. Plastipolis is the French cluster involved in the WIINTECH network.