Units & Initiatives

Industry & Economic Development

Competitive economic regions are identifiable by interconnected clusters of academic, industry, government, military, and community organizations collaborating to catalyze new innovations, jobs, and investments. To this end, the Industry and Economic Development (IED) department in ECU’s Office of Innovation and Economic Development (IED) continually gives support to local, regional, and statewide economic developers, and identifies and brings to the table those ECU and University system resources that grow key industry clusters. Outreach to city, county, regional and statewide economic development partners impacts over thirty counties and supports industry clusters such as advanced manufacturing, aerospace, marine sciences, life sciences, energy, advanced materials, and tourism, among others.

Because ECU strives to be a national model for regional transformation, IED focuses its efforts not only to aid area economic developers but also to lead in growing emerging industry clusters. IED focuses upon building productive partnernships within three particular areas of strength of the university: health care and medical innovation, advanced learning technologies, and the military.

Health Care and Medical Innovation

Without doubt, applying research in health sciences at ECU to the health concerns of the region and state brings both improved health and economic wellbeing. IED works closely with faculty and student researchers to provide avenues to apply and develop their research at the intersection of biofeedback, gaming, simulation, and health care. It arranges opportunities such as the East Coast Games Conference and the North Carolina Military Business Centers’ Technology conference at which ECU research and innovations are showcased.

Advanced Learning Technologies

ECU’s contributions to the serious gaming industry stem from research and educational programming in animation and interactive design, engineering, performing arts, and health and human performance conducted at ECU. In order to showcase these advances, IED identifies and provides presentation venues for ECU researchers. For instance, continued sponsorship of the East Coast Games Conference (ECGC) since its inception in 2009, gives ECU faculty and students the opportunity not only to showcase their own advances but also to explore the challenges and ramifications of the interaction between new technologies and established techniques. ECU faculty have presented to audiences of game developers, students, artists, programmers, and executives from North Carolina and beyond that have grown to over 1000 since 2009.


IED’s economic development and engagement activities coupled with ECU’s high-impact applied research have pioneered initiatives and programs to launch mutually beneficial partnerships between the university and its community. For instance, ECU partnerships with the military community expanded significantly after IED generated a comprehensive research and asset report for ECU’s military, educational, and legislative partners and
mapped the findings to recommendations by the NC Military Growth Task Force. We are supporting pathways for improved higher education opportunities for servicemembers and veterans; expediting research to employ biofeedback, gaming and simulation in military performance; and assembling military, industry and ECU teams to apply for Department of Defense grants.



Ruthann Cage

Director of Industry and Economic Development

Office 252.737.1343 · Mobile 919.802.7444