GVSU stands at the cutting edge of the burgeoning biotechnology industry with its Grand Rapids SmartZone, and has chosen Dugener to take the university through the process.
Dugener comes to Grand Valley after serving as the managing director of the Michigan Economic Development Corp.’s targeted community initiatives unit. Part of that position included working as statewide director of the entire SmartZone program. As a result, Dugener has already worked closely with the development of the Grand Rapids SmartZone.
“Matt has the ability and vision to help advance Grand Valley’s work in forward-looking research and technology development,” said Gayle Davis, provost at GVSU.
Prior to his position with the MEDC, he was the business development specialist for the city of Muskegon’s Department of Planning and Economic Development. In that capacity, he worked closely with Grand Valley on the development of the Muskegon SmartZone.
“Developing and implementing the technology business accelerator program was one of my primary responsibilities at the MEDC, and I am well-versed in the activities of nationally successful technology based business development initiatives,” said Dugener. “Grand Valley has the potential to join those ranks as one of the nation’s most successful programs, and I’m excited to be a part of the team that will realize that potential.”
Dugener earned a bachelor’s degree in public administration from Central Michigan University and a master’s degree in urban planning and economic development from Michigan State University.
“Matt brings a clear understanding of the issues and challenges facing the Grand Rapids SmartZone. That understanding, combined with his technical aptitude, make him highly qualified to lead this SmartZone,” said John Gracki, associate vice president of Academic Affairs.
As part of the Grand Rapids SmartZone, Grand Valley’s new Center for Health Sciences will dedicate 30,000 square feet for life science incubator space. Grand Valley will work with the Van Andel Institute and life science companies to help place students and faculty in the research and commercialization process.
The Michigan Economic Development Corp. created the zones in 2001 as part of an effort to promote and attract high technology business development in the state. Related legislation provided a tax increment-financing tool that allows a local development finance authority to support high-technology business development, including the construction of a business acceleration center, to cultivate new companies.
Grand Valley was the only university in the state to be granted two SmartZones — one in Grand Rapids and one in Muskegon.