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WSU receives grant to spur business creation, technical assistance

PULLMAN, Wash. – A new grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) will empower Washington State University to help create and sustain jobs throughout Washington and western Idaho.
The EDA recently announced a five-year, $625,000 grant to the WSU University Center to provide public and private sectors with economic development support including:
  • developing new ideas for commercialized products and services through licensing and start-ups
  • building businesses and sustainable jobs using WSU technology, ideas and talent
  • collaborating to bolster economic growth in the region.
“The Economic Development Administration strongly supports the innovation, research and development that take place at our nation’s colleges and universities,” said Acting Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Matt Erskine. “This EDA grant will work to advance regional competitiveness by spurring innovation and entrepreneurship, creating higher-skill, living-wage jobs and promoting industry clusters.”
Legacy of supporting economic development
“WSU has been a University Center for the EDA for more than 25 years,” said Michael Ebinger, business management counselor and director of the WSU University Center for Innovation and Value Creation.  “The center’s unique technical assistance programs give inventors and innovators relevant data and interpretation about market forces and whether their products have a good chance of succeeding.”
A changing demographic
The Pacific Northwest is very different demographically than it was 10 or 20 years ago, Ebinger said. The grant will bring further distinction to WSU’s land grant mission by improving the University Center’s capacity to facilitate collaboration on innovative business ideas that will benefit the region’s communities.
“We respond to challenges differently than 20 years ago,” he explained. “For example, if a client wants to locate a shopping center in the middle of nowhere, but isn’t sure if the demographics match the target market, we can provide rapid data and interpretations coordinated through the University Center and the Innovation Assessment Center. We couldn’t do that efficiently 20 years ago, let alone remotely.”
“We’ve served all sorts of clients: private and public sector, tribes, inventors and nonprofits of all kinds,” said Jerman Rose, director of the College of Business International Business Institute. “WSU provides many types of resources for the development of our state.”
Additional resources
Other important interfaces include WSU Research Foundation/Economic Development, the Office of Intellectual Property Administration, University of Washington’s Center for Commercialization, and several public and private associations related to manufacturing, biotechnology, health sciences, energy and agriculture.
“As these services mature, we will know how to use them more efficiently,” said Ebinger. “Getting our expertise out on the street introduces us to the other organizations and helps us complement each other’s activities. We will collaborate with these and other agencies to provide unique assistance to businesses in need.”
Anyone needing economic development assistance may contact the University Center’s Innovation Assessment Center, administered at the WSU Spokane campus, by emailing Michael Ebinger at or calling 509-358-7897.
About the college
The WSU College of Business is accredited at the baccalaureate, masters and doctoral levels by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. The college spans campuses across WSU with the largest campus in Pullman, a thriving online campus, urban campuses in Vancouver and the Tri-Cities, an emerging campus in Everett and global partnerships in China, Switzerland, Thailand, Greece and many other locations.
The college conducts scholarly and applied research. It offers degree programs in a variety of business disciplines and in hospitality business management, supplementing face-to-face offerings through innovative online learning and international programs. For more information, visit the website at  

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