Shihab Selected to Lead UW Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation; Community colleges included in the collaboration

UW News Service

An accomplished scientist and entrepreneur who helped develop the framework for the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CEI) at the University of Wyoming has been named director of the new center.

Penelope Shihab, who has launched several successful companies in the United States and abroad over two decades of biotechnology management and business development, will lead the key element of the Wyoming Innovation Partnership (WIP) at UW.

WIP is a collaboration between UW, community colleges across the state, Wyoming Business Council, Department of Workforce Services, and other state agencies — endorsed by Governor Mark Gordon — to develop innovative solutions that will support and improve Wyoming’s economy and workforce.

CEI aims to become an interdisciplinary integrator for programs supporting the state’s priority economic sectors, in addition to activating new business lines and supporting the state’s workforce goals.

“Empowering Wyoming entrepreneurs and supporting their entrepreneurial spirit is a key part of WIP,” says Gordon. “I am excited about the additional opportunities for collaboration that will come with the addition of Dr. Shihab to the team.”

“I am thrilled that Dr. Shihab has agreed to lead this important, expanded UW commitment to our students and our state,” said UW President Ed Seidel. “Innovation and entrepreneurship are so important to Wyoming’s future, and Dr. Shihab’s career and experiences are exactly what we are working to develop.”

Shihab is the CEO and Founder of Jordan Company for Antibody Production (MonoJo Biotech), a leading biotechnology company in the Arab region. The company was established in 2005 in Amman, Jordan, and was selected by the World Economic Forum in 2019 as one of 100 Arab Startups Shaping the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Moreover, out of these 100 startups, MonoJo Biotech was selected as one of the 10 startups that are helping to change the Arab world.

“I am honored to join the Wyoming community and contribute to and build on excellence at UW,” Shihab said. “I hope to bring my diverse perspectives and experience to the university’s entrepreneurship and innovation initiatives. It’s an exciting time to be among the awesome students, faculty and staff.

Shihab holds a Ph.D. in Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences from the University of Strathclyde in the UK. She is a board member of the European Cooperation in Science and Technology, a funding organization to create research/innovation networks involving scientists across Europe and beyond.

“I have been fortunate to spend the last year with Penelope developing the framework for our Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. She brings to UW a passion for cross-disciplinary innovation – a passion that has translated into a successful international business career, in addition to being an influencer for women and young professionals around the world to become entrepreneurs, innovators and top business leaders,” says Steve Farkas, UW Associate Vice President for Economic Development. “I look forward to working with Penelope to further develop Wyoming’s entrepreneurial ecosystem in conjunction with our Wyoming Innovation Partnership.”

“I am delighted that Dr. Shihab is the new director of IEC,” said Brad Tyndall, president of Central Wyoming College. “Not only is she a great scientist and entrepreneur, but I am also impressed with her general sense of leadership and management. She so quickly and skillfully researched information and connections with various Wyoming partners, and I know she is just getting started. She will be a great asset to WIP and more.

CEI has an ambitious program. He understands:

– Champion the importance of innovation and student entrepreneurship education through collaboration, partnership, and identifying common goals on campus to foster a culture of creative collaboration at UW.

— Develop a centralized corporate partnership office, in collaboration with the UW Office of Research and Economic Development, the Office of Academic Affairs and the UW Foundation. The office aims to create opportunities for company-sponsored interdisciplinary innovation projects by engaging faculty, staff, students, alumni and external partners.

— Partner with UW’s Business Resource Network, College of Business, and other campus units to ensure broad multidisciplinary participation in available entrepreneurship and innovation programs. This includes innovation workshops, boot camps, and after-school programs to support innovation and entrepreneurship.

— Collaborate with WIP partners to develop a statewide network of innovation hubs that includes priority economic sector innovation activities in collaboration with professors, entrepreneurs and investors.

– Collaborate with UW’s new School of Computing and the Wyoming Outdoor Recreation, Tourism, and Hospitality Initiative to support cross-disciplinary activities that introduce WIP faculty, students, and businesses to activities of entrepreneurship and innovation.

“Entrepreneurship and innovation are important to building our state’s economic resilience, and attracting a world-class entrepreneur like Dr. Shihab is a testament to the exciting opportunity we have in Wyoming,” said Josh Dorrell, CEO of the Wyoming Business Council. “His vast experience and broad perspective will certainly help leverage growing entrepreneurial assets across the state.”

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