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Published March 22, 2022
An accomplished scientist and entrepreneur who has helped develop the framework for the University of Wyoming’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CEI) has been named director of the new center.
Penelope Shihab, who has started several successful companies in the United States and internationally during two decades of biotechnology management and business development, will lead the key component of the Wyoming Innovation Partnership (WIP) at UW.
WIP is a collaboration among UW, the state’s community colleges, the Wyoming Business Council, the Department of Workforce Services and other state agencies -- endorsed by Gov. Mark Gordon -- to develop innovative solutions that will support and enhance 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 sectors and supporting state workforce objectives.
“Spurring on Wyoming’s entrepreneurs and supporting their entrepreneurial spirit is a key part of WIP,” Gordon says. “I am excited for the additional opportunities for collaboration that will accompany Dr. Shihab’s addition to the team.”
“I’m delighted that Dr. Shihab has agreed to lead this important piece of UW’s expanded commitment to our students and our state,” UW President Ed Seidel says. “Innovation and entrepreneurship are so important to Wyoming’s future, and Dr. Shihab’s career and experiences fit exactly with what we’re working to develop.”
Shihab is the CEO and founder of Jordan Company for Antibody Production (MonoJo Biotech), a leading biotech 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 among the 100 Arab startups shaping the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Furthermore, out of these 100 startups, MonoJo Biotech was selected as one of the 10 startups that are helping to change the Arab world.
“I’m honored to be joining the Wyoming community and to contribute to and build on UW’s excellence,” Shihab says. “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 impressive students, faculty and staff.”
Shihab holds a Ph.D. in pharmacy and biomedical sciences from the University of Strathclyde in the United Kingdom. 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 interdisciplinary innovation -- a passion that has translated to a successful international business career, in addition to being an influencer for women and young professionals all around the world to become leading entrepreneurs, innovators and business leaders,” says Steve Farkas, UW’s associate vice president for economic development. “I am looking forward to working with Penelope to further develop Wyoming’s entrepreneurial ecosystem in collaboration with our Wyoming Innovation Partnership.”
“I’m delighted that Dr. Shihab is the new CEI director,” Central Wyoming College President Brad Tyndall says. “She is not only a great scientist and entrepreneur, but I’m also impressed with her overall leadership and management savvy. She has so quickly and adeptly sought input and connection to various partners in Wyoming, and I know she has just begun. She will be a very big asset to WIP and more.”
CEI has an ambitious agenda. It includes:
-- Championing the importance of innovation and entrepreneurship student education through collaboration, partnership and identification of shared campus goals to foster a culture of creative collaboration at UW.
-- Developing a centralized corporate partnership office, in collaboration with UW’s 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.
-- Partnering with UW’s Business Resource Network, the College of Business and other campus units to ensure broad, multidisciplinary participation in available entrepreneurship and innovation programming. This includes innovation workshops, boot camps, and co-curricular programming to support innovation and entrepreneurship.
-- Collaborating with WIP partners to develop a statewide network of innovation hubs that includes priority economic sector innovation activities working with faculty, entrepreneurs and investors.
-- Collaborating with UW’s new School of Computing and the Wyoming Outdoor Recreation, Tourism and Hospitality Initiative to support interdisciplinary activities that introduce WIP faculty, students and businesses to entrepreneurship and innovation activities.
“Entrepreneurship and innovation are important to building economic resilience in our state, and attracting a world-class entrepreneur like Dr. Shihab speaks to the exciting opportunity we have in Wyoming,” Wyoming Business Council CEO Josh Dorrell says. “Her deep experience and broad perspective will definitely help leverage the growing entrepreneurial assets throughout the state.”