Brown and the Innovation Economy

Read the Brown & the Innovation Economy strategic plan.
Read news release here.
Read provost's letter with updates on progress (Spring 2019).
Read provost's letter with updates on progress (Fall 2019).


In June 2017, Provost Richard M. Locke launched a new initiative -- Brown and the Innovation Economy -- to develop a strategy for how the University can best contribute to innovation and the growth of stable, well-paying jobs in Rhode Island.  On June 28, 2018, Provost Locke shared the results of the initial phase of work and distributed the Brown and the Innovation Economy Strategic Plan. (Read)

Brown is making investments in research, education, and infrastructure with the potential for meaningful economic impact. The following are among the more prominent examples:

The Brown and the Innovation Economy project focuses on how the University's investments can align most effectively with the efforts of business, government, and other universities in Rhode Island to contribute to a robust state economy.

Project Components

Research: interviews with university, business, and government officials in Rhode Island and elsewhere are focused on identifying the obstacles to past economic development initiatives as well as the current economic development initiatives with momentum. The research aims to understand the politics of economic development in Rhode Island: what are actors’ interests and how are they pursuing them?

Convening: Brown will host a series of breakfast meetings in 2017-2018 focused on areas where Brown and other institutions in the state are investing (e.g. entrepreneurship, life sciences). Each meeting will feature a presentation from an entity outside Rhode Island that has had success innovating in the subject area, as well as a perspective from within the state. The Provost will then facilitate a conversation among business, university, and government leaders exploring opportunities for cooperation among the array of Rhode Island initiatives in each subject area.

Action: Brown will develop an economic development plan based on the findings from interviews and the breakfast discussions. The strategy will identify actions that Brown can take -- new or amended programs, investments, and policies -- to strengthen its role in the local economy.

Breakfast Meetings, Agendas & Presenters

The project entailed approximately 70 meetings, focus groups and interview sessions with an array of Rhode Island community leaders and relevant experts, including the following topical breakfast meetings with public, private and nonprofit leaders in the state and region:

October 10, 2017: Data Science
1. Introduction, Brown and the Innovation Economy (Provost Richard M. Locke)
2. Best Practices for Universities & Economic Development (Professor Lenore Blum, CMU)
3. Data Science in Rhode Island: A Local Industry Perspective (Rajiv Kumar, Virgin Pulse)
4. Group Discussion

November 17, 2017: Entrepreneurship
1. Introduction (Provost Richard M. Locke)
2. Lessons from Innovation Research at MIT (Dean Fiona Murray, MIT)
3. CIC in Rhode Island (Dougan Sherwood, CIC)
4. Table Discussion

December 5, 2017: Engineering Design
1. Introductions (Provost Richard M. Locke)
2. Building Better Partnerships for the Innovation Economy (Professor Liz Gerber, Northwestern, Design for America)
3. Product Engineering in Rhode Island (Michael Pereira, Ximedica)
4. Table discussion

February 13, 2018: Preliminary Action Plan
1. The Role for Brown (Provost Richard M. Locke)
2. Translating Research into Industry Assets (Daniel Behr, Office of Industry Engagement & Commercial Venturing, Brown)
3. Convening University and Industry (Tracey Dodenhoff, Office of Industry Engagement & Commercial Venturing, Brown)
4. Open Campus for Rhode Island Entrepreneurs (Walter Callender, Practico Innovation; Arnell Millhouse, Intra-city Geeks)
5. Table Discussion

April 17, 2018: Life Sciences
1. Welcome and Introductions (Provost Richard M. Locke)
2. Brown Biomedical Innovations, Inc. (Jack A. Elias, Dean of Medicine and Biological Sciences, Brown)
3. BioLabs Feasibility Study in Providence (Susan Chase, BioLabs)
4. Challenges and Opportunities of University Collaborations (Patrice Milos, Medley Genomics)
5. Lessons from the Wyss Center in Switzerland (John Donoghue, Henry Merritt Wriston Professor of Neuroscience, Brown)
6. Group Discussion

Strategic Plan

On June 28, 2018, Provost Locke shared the results of the initial phase of work and distributed the Brown and the Innovation Economy Strategic Plan. (Read)