New Leadership at FedEx Institute of Technology to Help Institution Create Niche

University research and new discoveries are critical to a thriving economy.  They are – if you will – the fuel that feeds our economic engine.  Without research leading to new technology, we would not have new treatments for cancer, heart disease or diabetes; new and better diagnostic imaging systems; more fuel efficient automobiles or biofuels; faster computers; robotics; and a myriad of other discoveries that are bettering our lives.

New technologies lead to new businesses, new jobs, higher wages, and a more varied and stable economy.  Therefore, as we look at ways to encourage and strengthen entrepreneurism in Memphis, it also is important for us to support our local research drivers.

One of the area’s significant centers of research is the FedEx Institute of Technology at the University of Memphis, which aspires to be a research leader in the areas of logistics, biologistics, nanotechnology, bioengineering, bioinformatics, supply chain management, and distribution.

The institute was created to provide a key link between university research and commercialization, allowing local businesses and entrepreneurs to partner with university researchers to develop new technology and then take it to market.

Recently, the University of Memphis named Shaye Mandle as Executive Director of the FedEx Institute of Technology.  Shaye’s experience includes leadership positions at the tenth-largest commercial defense/aerospace firm in the nation and with tech-focused public policy and economic development organizations, all of which involved connecting university researchers and businesses. He is a visionary, dynamic leader who has the ability to guide the institute through its next phase of growth and into a major source of fuel for our economic engine.

The vision of the FedEx Institute of Technology was a role in the business community similar to that of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  MIT has made itself a hub for much of the research and discovery that is taking place in the greater Boston science and education community.  MIT focuses on developing technology that can be transferable to practical uses, and creating the partnerships to commercialize new ideas. Students trained at MIT come with a strong technology background but grounded in a practical, real-world culture.  This is a great model for Memphis.

The University of Memphis already has a research base of more than $50 million. Dr. Shirley Raines, university president, has set a goal to increase that base to $100 million by 2012, the school’s 100th anniversary.  The FedEx Institute of Technology will play a critical part in reaching that goal.

To reach its full potential, the FedEx Institute must find its place in the overall Memphis bioscience and biotechnology community.  We are fortunate to have so many organizations and companies actively progressing with their own discoveries, innovations and investments.  In fact, most people would be surprised to discover all that is taking place in our hospitals, universities, research labs, corporations, associations, incubators and venture capital offices across the area.

Most of these groups also have begun to develop critical partnerships with each other to further the cycle of research, discover and development.  For the FedEx Institute, partnering will increase the likelihood that new technologies will make it to market and that it can become one of the hubs of the Memphis science and education community.

Shaye’s job will be to evaluate the university’s available technology, discover new applications for its existing licensed technology, and market the University of Memphis’ available technologies to businesses and entrepreneurs.

As a community, our job will be to help him find the commercial partners to take these new discoveries to the next stage. That means organizations such as Emerge Memphis, the Memphis Bioworks Foundation and a new bioscience entrepreneurial institute working to bring entrepreneurs together with new technology and provide them with the resources and expertise they need to succeed.  It also means more venture capitalists, grants, and funding from sources such as the Memphis Fast Forward Plan.

One thing is clear – in order to have a successful bioeconomy, all industry sectors, whether research, development, government, or private business, need to work together for the betterment of all.


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