About Us

Welcome to the Office of Innovation and Economic Development (OIED) at East Carolina University (ECU) where we are passionately committed to creating a strong, sustainable future for eastern North Carolina through innovation in community and economic development. Since the 1960s, we have led the charge to engage the resources of the University with education, industry, government, military and community partners to enhance the region’s overall vitality.

We partner with economic development organizations on proven strategies for job creation, recruitment and retention. Simultaneously, we develop and test innovative strategies to promote regional transformation and competitiveness. OIED is essential to ECU’s mission as a “national model for public service and regional transformation.” Over the last five years, OIED has grown into the largest and most dynamic organization of its kind within the UNC System and beyond, and our programs are recognized locally and nationally for their exceptional innovation, broad reach, measurable productivity and quality.

Our professionals, working with hundreds of faculty, students and external partners, deliver innovative, value-adding programs and services to fuel community enhancement and regional leadership; innovation, entrepreneurship and small business; and cluster-based economic development.

  • Community Enhancement and Regional Leadership: As the landscape and economy continue to change, many communities face shortages of resources, capacity and leadership. We target scholarship and services in distressed communities and specialize in assisting these communities to obtain funding, training, and technical expertise to improve their vitality and attractiveness as destinations for talent and investment. Simultaneously, we partner to prepare young people for leadership positions in their communities.
  • Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Small Business: As an engaged research university, we recognize our role as a primary engine driving discovery, innovation, and entrepreneurship on campus and throughout the region. Our training programs, product development facilities, and entrepreneur/small business support services identify, nurture and retain creative talent in the region to build a knowledgeable, skilled and adaptable workforce.
  • Cluster-Based Economic Development: This approach involves leveraging ECU’s education, research and outreach capabilities to strengthen those economic clusters with the greatest potential to deliver jobs and investment throughout the region. We focus our efforts on clusters for which ECU’s historic strengths in healthcare, distance education and military support offer the greatest potential impact: health, healthcare and medical innovation; advanced learning technologies; and the military. Additionally, we assist regional economic development partners in supporting other important clusters.

Economically vibrant regions are no longer defined by geographic boundaries, rather they are defined by the presence and strength of clusters of interconnected technologies, enterprises and workforces. Most importantly, they are fueled by the presence of creative, skilled human capital.

As a rural serving research university, ECU stands at a crossroads. It simultaneously represents the most powerful magnet for talented human capital in the region, as well the most efficient pathway by which educated and motivated young people may leave the region. OIED’s goal is to continually improve the region’s social, environmental, and economic vitality to position the region as a magnet for talent, creativity and investment.



J. Ted Morris, Ph.D.
Associate Vice Chancellor of Innovation and Economic Development