Inaugural Faculty Fellows announced in 401 Tech Bridge program promoting innovation and entrepreneurship across campus

Jan. 17, 2024

Rhode Island, Alaska, Hawaii — can you guess what these three coastal states have in common?

Despite 4,000-plus miles separating them, the three are joined in a new RISE-UP initiative funded by the U.S. Office of Naval Research, which selected Rhode Island and its far-flung counterparts to move innovation and technology forward. The new partnership — for Resilient Innovative Sustainable Economies via University Partnerships — will push the frontiers of intellectual development and entrepreneurship on college campuses.

Eleven newly selected Faculty Fellows at the University of Rhode Island will help lead the University through that process.

Rhode Island is part of a new RISE-UP initiative funded by the U.S. Office of Naval Research, aiming to move innovation and technology forward in the state. (Photo 401 Tech Bridge)

The first cohort of RISE-UP Innovation & Entrepreneurship Faculty Fellows at URI were recently announced by 401 Tech Bridge. The Faculty Fellows program focuses on enhancing faculty knowledge and involvement in innovation and entrepreneurship at URI and in Rhode Island, by integrating innovation and entrepreneurship with curriculum, exposing students and other faculty to innovation opportunities and participating in growing the entrepreneurship ecosystem at URI and its surrounding community.

URI clinical faculty member Nancy Forster-Holt, in the College of Business, is program lead for the team. The past TEDxURI speaker developed URI’s interdisciplinary major, minor and certificate in innovation and entrepreneurship and is part of the founding team of the Launch Lab. Her award-winning class ‘Introduction to Innovation and Entrepreneurship’ empowers students to start a side business on the Kanu marketplace platform.

Brice Loose, Associate Professor of Oceanography, Marine and Atmospheric Chemistry and Physical Oceanography

Ten faculty members from across the University join Forster-Holt in the first cohort, including the following two from the Bay Campus community:

Brice Loose (Graduate School of Oceanography) is a leading oceanographer in discussions about climate change. He co-founded the Water Science Research Community and has secured several awards and funding for his research and contributions to marine/atmospheric chemistry and physical oceanography.

Brennan T. Phillips (College of Engineering) (GSO Ph.D. 2016) created the world’s pioneering compact deep-sea system with fiber optic reel for underwater livestream video feeds (FOReels). He brings extensive scholarship in robotics and novel instrumentation for oceanographic research and served as lead remote-vehicle engineer/pilot for Robert Ballard.

Brennan T. Phillips, Associate Professor of Engineering, Ocean Engineering

Business mindset

“Connecting academia with real businesses is very important to me as a researcher and teacher,” says Chen in the College of Business. “The project and industrial exposure also bring invaluable experiences to our students. I would like to know other faculty at URI who are also doing the same thing, or want to, and learn how they work with industry. A group of faculty can bring better contributions to the University and local businesses, than us as individuals. When we pool talents, we can maximize potential.”

Chen was pleased to learn he’d been selected for the program and is looking forward to helping URI students prepare for industries of the future. He cites a number of areas that offer growth potential for URI graduates from aging and senior care to manufacturing in outer space.

“A collaborative culture is a start,” says Chen.

Christy Ashley, associate dean in URI’s College of Business, says that the Fellows investment will help all of the University’s colleges strengthen their collaborations with one another and with 401TechBridge, RIHub, and the URI Launch Lab.

“We really appreciate the efforts to leverage external funding to help URI organize an entrepreneurial ecosystem,” she says. “The Faculty Fellows program will build on existing efforts at the University to foster regional prosperity and make a local impact.”

Learn more here and follow on Linkedin for updates and applications.