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Mason AVP appointed to Virginia Innovation Partnership Authority

August 6, 2020   /   by Robin Rose Parker

Paula Sorrell

Paula Sorrell, George Mason University’s associate vice president for innovation and economic development, has been selected by Gov. Ralph Northam to serve on the new Virginia Innovation Partnership Authority (VIPA). The founding members of the partnership were announced on July 31.

Established in the bipartisan Commonwealth of Virginia Innovation Partnership Act, the newly formed authority was founded to advance technology-based economic development across the state. From research to seed funding, commercialization to job and business growth, VIPA is designed to grow the tech sector within Virginia.

“Paula Sorrell’s appointment to the Virginia Innovation Partnership Authority is a tremendous opportunity for Mason and the commonwealth,” said President Gregory Washington. “Paula brings a wealth of experience in the world of innovation and economic development, from research to business development to job creation. We are proud to have her represent Mason on this new authority and advance our efforts to deliver a strong return on investment for our students and the Commonwealth of Virginia.”

Before coming to Mason, Sorrell was the director of the Economic Growth Institute at the University of Michigan. She also served as vice president of entrepreneurship, innovation and venture capital for the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, overseeing $1 billion under management and $110 million in new investments to build Michigan’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, including new university lab-to-market programs, seed-funding programs, and portfolio investments. She also developed a series of programs to increase lab-to-market success—resulting in a significant expansion of tech start-ups—and attracted funding that resulted in a 32:1 return on investment for public dollars.

As Mason’s associate vice president of innovation and economic development, Sorrell oversees the Office of Technology Transfer; the Virginia Small Business Development Center state program; the Procurement Technical Assistance Center; business incubators in Fairfax, Warrenton, and Loudoun; and entrepreneurial programming for the innovation development in Arlington and on other Mason campuses.

The newly formed authority consists of representatives from the investor, tech and entrepreneurial communities, including Monique Adams of 757 Angels, Barbara D. Boyan of Virginia Commonwealth University, Richard Hall of Orion Capital, Chiedo John of GitHub and Generate Impact, and Kurt John of Siemens USA.

“This type of state involvement will be increasingly important as we navigate through the current economic environment,” said Sorrell. “It represents a diversified approach to economic development and leveraging universities’ strengths will make all the difference.  It’s an honor for Mason to be at the table as part of this solution.”