Ro Khanna (second from right) of the U.S. Department of Commerce visited UMSL’s IT Enterprises on Friday. Khanna met with (from left): Deepak Vyas, chairman and chief executive officer of Redberri in St. Louis, UMSL Chancellor Tom George and Martin Leifeld, vice chancellor of university advancement at UMSL.

Ro Khanna, deputy assistant secretary for the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service at the Department of Commerce, visited IT Enterprises at the University of Missouri–St. Louis on Friday. He toured the biotechnology and information technology incubator after meeting with Chancellor Tom George and others.

“The (Obama) administration is really looking to focus on regional incubators,” Khanna told a group of UMSL administrators, IT Enterprises tenants and regional Department of Commerce representatives. “Innovation clusters are essential to economic growth. This is a very impressive model of a university, government and private sector coming together.”

Khanna had lunch at ITe and listened to a brief presentation by Nasser Arshadi, vice provost of research administration at UMSL, about the incubator, its 10 tenants and its future plans. Representatives from the Medicinal Chemistry Group, Akermin, Inc. and MOgene explained their companies and why they came to the incubator.

“To get a good lab space in this region is really hard to get,” said Barry Blackwell, president and chief executive officer of Akermin.

He went on to say the quality, reasonably priced space is great for start-up businesses.

IT Enterprises supports innovation in high-growth fields including information technology and life sciences, providing the physical, mentoring, business development and computational resources required for startup companies to grow. Featuring both wet and dry lab facilities and a high-performance computing center staffed by onsite PhD scientists, IT Enterprises provides the expertise to help startups, in a wide variety of technical fields, solve fundamental research and development, and business development issues, including those that require sophisticated computational resources.

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Kylie Shafferkoetter

Kylie Shafferkoetter