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ASU expands mission with reorganization of its economic development and entrepreneurship units

Keith Walton
September 13, 2013

Arizona State University’s Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development (OKED) is changing its structure to more directly drive ASU’s expansion into research, intellectual property and startup and industry portfolios, locally, nationally and around the globe.

“Quality public higher education is a crucial component to economic growth and competitiveness,” said ASU President Michael M. Crow. “Improving how people, communities and businesses access ASU’s talent, knowledge and research will aid in fostering innovation and increasing our impact.”

OKED’s senior vice president Sethuraman “Panch” Panchanathan explains this is a key time, as universities strive to meet the rapidly changing needs of the nation’s economy.

“ASU is a place where research, entrepreneurialism and innovation thrives, prospers and helps drive economic development in Arizona and beyond,” said Panchanathan. “We are committed to accelerating the trend of economic growth, and it is through the engagement with businesses, economic development agencies, cities and policymakers that together, we ensure a vibrant economic future for Arizona.”

As part of this new structure, OKED welcomes Keith Walton as vice president for Strategic Industry Collaborations. He will focus on strategic corporate engagement to increase the university’s accessibility to business collaborations.

Walton’s distinguished career extends from academia, across industry and government posts. He most recently served as vice president of Global Government Affairs at Alcoa and before that as principal and chief administrative officer at Global Infrastructure Partners. He also served as executive vice president and secretary of the University at Columbia University in New York City for 10 years. From 1993 to 1996, he served the U.S. Department of the Treasury as deputy chief of staff and chief of staff to the Undersecretary for Enforcement, the Treasury’s chief law enforcement official. Walton will also serve as a senior advisor to President Crow.

Todd Hardy will assume the role of vice president of Assets at ASU Foundation, as well as senior economic development advisor within OKED. Throughout his career of more than 25 years as corporate counsel to Fortune 500 and NASDAQ firms, and co-founder of a number of startup and early stage enterprises, Hardy has been a leader in the formation and operation of innovative enterprises built on advances in a variety of new technologies. In his new role, he will focus on promoting the continued expansion of ASU SkySong as a global innovation and entrepreneurial center, and attracting companies to the Greater Phoenix marketplace in continued collaboration with local and state economic development organizations.

“I’m delighted Todd is joining our team,” said R.F. “Rick” Shangraw, Jr., CEO of the ASU Foundation. “His deep experience building connections with the community and intersections between commerce and the university will help us to better serve the university. He will be part of a senior team working with our partners to achieve the full vision for SkySong.”

Gordon McConnell, assistant vice president for innovation, entrepreneurship and venture acceleration within OKED, will lead the newly named Entrepreneurship and Innovation Group (EIG – formerly ASU Venture Catalyst) based at ASU SkySong.

Under McConnell’s leadership, the unit has grown to encompass not just startup acceleration, but a broad range of entrepreneurship-related activities across the university, the metro area and the state.

Prior to relocating to the United States, McConnell was deputy CEO of the Dublin City University Ryan Academy for Entrepreneurship in Ireland, having previously been Head of the President’s Office in DCU for six years. He has previously served as a senior strategy consultant for Andersen Consulting (Accenture) and the founder of two startup ventures. Among his accomplishments, he has produced published research, including the development of high technology clusters, innovation in social entrepreneurship and digital media.

EIG will serve as the entry point for information about the diverse entrepreneurial activities supported by ASU within the university and the community. This group was created to advance ASU’s design aspiration of valuing entrepreneurship – one of the eight design aspirations that guide ASU’s growth and transformation as a New American University. 

“The combination of talent, experience and execution among the leaders of these essential areas of our organization are exceptional, and will no doubt ensure ASU’s continued success as a model for a New American University,” adds Panchanathan.

ASU is known for its unique and effective approach to growing a knowledge enterprise within a public university system. Over the last decade, ASU has tripled research expenditures to $405 million, and is one of the fastest growing universities in the country.

The announcement of the reorganization of the Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development at ASU is the next major step in the university’s transformation as a New American University. ASU takes a distinctively different approach to evangelizing entrepreneurship, leveraging our place and transforming society.

In addition to the implementation of the new structure, OKED has launched a new Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development website to better serve the needs of our constituents. As part of this transition, more information about how to engage with ASU may be found on the ASU SkySong and Entrepreneurship and Innovation at ASU websites. These sites will offer a comprehensive, first look at the many aspects of these areas and will direct users to the appropriate place to discover more in-depth knowledge about specific opportunities and resources.