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Economic development delegation visits ASU

A giant sculpture of a globe.

Photo by David Ritter/

April 11, 2016

More than 50 economic development leaders from countries ranging from Colombia to Korea are visiting Arizona State University this week to learn more about how to grow businesses and international trade.

The U.S. Commerce Department and State Department, among other federal agencies, are bringing the delegation to Arizona and Southern California to soak up ideas and examples of innovation and entrepreneurship. ASU has developed a variety of business incubator and accelerator programs and is operating partnerships throughout the world to aid economic development, from helping Mexico strengthen its electrical power grid to educating engineers in Ghana.

The delegation includes trade, commerce and development representatives from Costa Rica, Colombia, Mexico, Honduras, the Bahamas, Cyprus, Korea, Canada and Kazakhstan.

The delegation’s federal program, called the Americas Competitiveness Exchange on Innovation and Entrepreneurship, is designed for regional leaders to learn firsthand from successful projects, share their knowledge and experiences, identify collaboration opportunities, and create long-term trade and research partnerships. Organizers hope to encourage the transfer of successful models to help create economic development in the Americas that is sustainable and benefits the economy broadly rather than just a segment.

At ASU, the Latin American leaders will visit the Biodesign Institute, whose creation was based around the innovative idea of multiple academic disciplines working together to solve problems by exploring the designs and genius that exist within the natural world. They will meet with Sethuraman “Panch” Panchanathan, ASU’s chief research and innovation officer and executive vice president of Knowledge Enterprise Development and, at the Polytechnic campus, with Wellington “Duke” Reiter, special adviser to President Crow and a key figure in the creation of ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus, which helped revive the heart of the city.

The ASU visit, arranged by the Arizona Commerce Authority, is part of a larger tour that includes Phoenix, Chandler, Gilbert, Oracle, Tucson and Yuma, followed by Imperial Valley and San Diego, in California.

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