Mississippi’s growing entrepreneurial ecosystem is being recognized a top 20 global ecosystem for startup experience, an achievement boosted by the state’s research universities.
The 2021 Global Startup Ecosystem Report, released by Startup Genome and the Global Entrepreneurship Network at London Tech Week, acknowledges the roles research institutions like Mississippi State University play in driving innovation in the Magnolia State. The Mississippi Development Authority, Innovate Mississippi and the state’s universities worked with Startup Genome to capture the strengths of Mississippi’s startup ecosystem.
“Mississippi is well-known for our work with companies in the advanced manufacturing, agriculture and automotive sectors, but we have so much more to offer, especially in emerging technologies,” said Laura Hipp, Mississippi Development Authority interim executive director. “Our focus on technology-intensive, knowledge-based economic development includes close partnerships with organizations across the state, including research universities, industry, nonprofit and private sector groups. Some of the areas we are focusing on include marine technology, renewable energy, information operations and biotechnology. These types of companies are especially important to Mississippi and would benefit greatly from locating here.”
Julie Jordan, vice president for research and economic development at MSU and chair of the Mississippi Research Consortium, said she sees first-hand the value MSU and the state’s research universities bring to the startup ecosystem.
“Every day at MSU we are supporting students that have an idea for a business, educating the next generation of innovators, helping faculty bring new discoveries to market and providing new companies with the space they need to grow and thrive,” Jordan said. “Our robust research activity also helps attract startups in key sectors as we work closely with the Mississippi Development Authority and other economic development groups to grow our innovation-based economy.”
MSU’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Outreach helps entrepreneurs launch new companies, grow existing businesses, build relationships and connections to seed funding, and master the essential skills needed to assess markets and operate a business. In 2019, the E-Center partnered with MSU’s School of Human Sciences to open the Idea Shop, a 2,000-square-foot facility in downtown Starkville that includes a publicly available makerspace and a retail product accelerator. MSU was recognized as an inaugural Best Maker School in Higher Education by Make: magazine and Newsweek last month.
The university’s Office of Technology Management works with researchers across campus to facilitate the transition of MSU-owned intellectual property to the marketplace, generating economic activity in the state and helping faculty gain equity in startups based on their research activity. OTM maintains a registry of technologies available for licensing at https://www.otm.msstate.edu/technologies.
MSU’s 272-acre Thad Cochran Research, Technology and Economic Development Park is home to more than 1,700 employees and tenants that include private businesses, government offices and robust research centers and institutes. The park contains a business incubator for startup companies as well as corporate office space that is available for growing companies. The Downtown Innovation Hub, an extension of the park acquired by MSU Research and Technology Corp. in 2019, features 34,000 square feet of available office space on Starkville’s Main Street targeted at technology companies.