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NDSU, UND, ND University System part of a regional technology and innovation alliance

The North Dakota University System, NDSU and UND are partnering with the Montana University System and 11 colleges and universities from a five-state region, to create a regional technology and innovation alliance.

It’s called “The Mountains and Plains University Innovation Alliance.”

North Dakota University System Chancellor Mark Hagerott said there has been a concentration of innovation, research and development and high tech jobs in just a few states, with smaller, more rural states getting a very small slice of that pie.

"What we realized is part of this is not because our professors, our faculty and our students aren't innovative or creative people," Hagerott said. "But we just couldn't get to scale."

Hagerott said the higher education chancellors and commissioners in those five states started talking in the fall of 2020 about creating an alliance.

"It was the realization that rural states weren't getting their fair share of federal research and innovation money," Hagerott said. "And as the 21st Century economy was emerging, our kids, our families and our states were at a disadvantage, unless we came together, to innovate together, and became more competitive as a group."

Hagerott said this alliance will allow the region to take advantage of such things as the “Chips and Science Bill,” passed by Congress. He said as the bill was first written, it established innovation hubs in larger states. But Hagerott said thanks to the efforts of Sen. John Hoeven (R-North Dakota), there will be a a rural hub.

"We're very interested in competing for that hub," Hagerott said. "We built the five-state consortium just to collaborate in general, but also to compete for this provision."

Hagerott said Congress has now agreed to release the first funding for those innovation hubs.

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