Missouri Innovation Center appoints new president and CEO

Thursday, June 5, 2014 | 9:39 p.m. CDT; updated 10:26 p.m. CDT, Thursday, June 5, 2014

COLUMBIA – After a six-month nationwide search and an extensive interview process, the Missouri Innovation Center has appointed a new president and CEO.

Bill Turpin, an MU alumnus and tech entrepreneur, will take over leadership of the MIC starting June 23.

"It's great that we would be able to attract someone like Mr. Turpin to the program," MIC Board Chairman David Keller said. "It's just a very unique opportunity for us all, and I hope for him, too."

Turpin studied electrical engineering at MU, graduating at top of his class in 1978.

He began his career at Texas Instruments and went on to found six startup companies, according to an MIC press release. Turpin's first company made an early application for Windows. His next was an innovator in Web page development that was acquired by Netscape in 1995. His third company was responsible for the first email blogging service.

For about the past 10 years, Turpin has been on the advisory board of the MU School of Engineering, Keller said.

MIC's search for new leadership began in January, several months after current President and CEO Jake Halliday announced his retirement. There was an interview process, and the 25 applicants were slowly narrowed to three finalists.

MIC, a nonprofit organization formed in 1984, strives to translate "research innovations into technologies, products, processes and new ventures that benefit society," according to its website. MIC manages the Life Science Business Incubator at Monsanto Place in Columbia, which opened in 2009. The incubator serves as a "safe landing area" for startup businesses, Keller said.

"Businesses that are starting up generally don't have much money and need access to space, laboratory and coaching," Keller said. "We coach and incubate startup companies until such time as they have raised adequate capital and/or are generating revenues that they can move out of the incubator and be supported on their own."

Most of the startup companies are continuations of research projects that are being commercialized out of MU, Keller said.

Up to this point, the incubator has been focused solely on laboratory and life science startup companies. A new software venturing center will serve as a sort of 'accelerator' for information technology startup companies.

"The venture center will be a place for you to bring your software company at a very low cost to collaborate and have professional coaching to grow your company," Keller said. "We've not had an emphasis toward that."

Turpin's experience in the field of information technology is one of the main reasons Keller thinks he will be perfect for MIC.

"Since his specialty is IT, there's no doubt that he will provide a huge level of influence and mentoring to some of the companies who aspire to do some of the things that he's done in his lifetime," Keller said.

Turpin currently resides in Silicon Valley. He will move from California to Columbia this month.

Supervising editor is Landon Woodroof.

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