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U.S. Economic Development Administration - Innovate@EDA Monthly Update U.S. Department of Commerce homepage Innovate@EDA Monthly Newletter Archive U.S. Economic Development Administration homepage

February 2011

The mission of the Economic Development Administration (EDA) is to lead the federal economic development agenda by promoting innovation and competitiveness, preparing American regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy. The agency has a competitive grant process and has established the following investment priorities as criteria: collaborative regional innovation, public/private partnerships, national strategic priorities, global competitiveness, environmentally sustainable development, and economically distressed and underserved communities.

Q&A with University of Michigan

University of MichiganContributors:

Marvin Parnes, Assoc. Vice President for Research
Daryl Weinert, Executive Director, Business Engagement Center
Ken Nisbet, Executive Director of Technology Transfer
Lawrence Molnar, Director, EDA University Center Institute for Research on Labor, Employment, and the Economy (IRLEE)

Q. President Obama set the clear goal of increasing R&D investments to 3 percent of GDP. How will this level of commitment enhance the great work being done at universities around the country?

A. Universities are the pipeline for innovation in America. A stable R&D budget, with appropriate increases year-to-year, is essential for universities to maintain and grow leading edge facilities and give emerging generations of scholars a place to innovate and create the new technologies that drive economic growth and competitiveness. Federal investment in R&D is the primary source of funding for the university research that generates the vast majority of inventions successfully licensed to start-ups and existing firms. Training of talented scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs is more important than ever. Through programs such as the Center for Entrepreneurship in the College of Engineering, the Zell-Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies in the Business School, and the TechStart summer internship program, Michigan and other universities are providing opportunities for students to generate successful ventures as part of their education. In recent years, Michigan and other institutions have expanded their research activity with industry and corporate partners, an increasingly important arena for innovation and training. This partnering is a key strategy for regional technology based economic development. Without robust federal funding, universities are less able to accomplish any of these critical undertakings.

Q. Many universities today have special innovation and entrepreneurship programs, with particular emphasis on incubators. Discuss the impact on job creation.

A. Three years ago, U-M Tech Transfer launched its Venture Center to broaden and improve start-up creation services and resources. Recently, we added our "Accelerator" to the Venture Center, a full suite of business formation services and resources, including access to incubator facilities and equipment, to prepare emerging new start-up ventures for sustainable success. This provides a central location to gather and share resources, a critical mass of venture services, a community center for entrepreneurial talent, and an organized system for enhanced venture creation. U-M Tech Transfer has launched ninety-three startups in the past ten years, a record that places U-M within the top ten of all universities. We want the Venture Center to increase our pipeline of new job-creating ventures, but, more importantly, we are focusing on enhancing the quality of our new venture opportunities to produce high value jobs and sustainable ventures.

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EDA-FUNDED TOOL 'Know Your Region'

Know Your Region LogoThe National Association of Development Organizations (NADO) recently released the "Know Your Region" website. For several years, the EDA-funded Know Your Region (KYR) program has offered training and resources to economic development practitioners and policymakers around the country. With the launch of, users can stay abreast of the latest trends in strategic planning, cluster development, regional innovation and economic competitiveness.

The Center for Business Acceleration and Incubation Studies (CBAIS), part of U-M's Institute for Research on Labor, Employment and the Economy, has conducted two national studies on business incubation, both funded by EDA. The1997 study, Impact of Incubator Investments, concluded that business incubation is indeed a strategic job creation tool. On average 468 jobs were directly attributable to a business incubator at a cost of $1,109 per job.

U-M is currently partnering with the National Business Incubation Association, University at Albany-State University of New York, and Cybergroup, Inc. to finish a national study of business incubation best practices. The current study will help delineate how best to structure business incubation programs so that the maximum number of jobs can be created.

For more than 25 years, the University of Michigan has been involved in business incubation and has helped communities conduct market and feasibility studies for business incubators. CBAIS works to ensure that current information on business incubation informs these studies so that resulting incubators follow best practices and are better positioned to generate sustainable new ventures and create jobs.

Q: The America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010, which President Obama signed into law recently, strengthens the Administration's capacity to elevate regional innovation cluster development as a key driver of future jobs growth. Universities are regarded as important partners in cluster development. What is their role and what is the impact on local economies?

A: To function well in a cluster, interfaces among the partners are critical. The University of Michigan has developed a comprehensive approach to managing interactions between the university and the business community. Universities have numerous assets that can contribute to business growth and economic development—faculty expertise, new technology, high-tech facilities, student and alumni talent, continuing education programs student project opportunities, and more. The Business Engagement Center at the University of Michigan connects companies to these U-M resources. The Business Engagement Center also provides a focal point for the university’s relationship with chambers of commerce, economic development groups, trade associations, governmental units and other schools within the region to ensure that the lines of communication are robust and that the level of coordination is high.

Q: The commercialization of technology developed in university and federally-funded labs is key to sustainable economic recovery. EDA’s Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship is promoting interagency initiatives to help bring new technologies, products, processes, and services out of labs and into the marketplace. Where has the focus on commercialization been most effective and what are some of the best practices you have seen?

A: Over the last ten years, the University of Michigan has made great progress in increasing the number of innovations that reach the marketplace. Our success is the result of some competitive advantages and some innovative practices that work well within our environment. These include:

  • High quality inventions resulting from diverse large scale, leading-edge research
  • A pro-active, encouraging environment for tech transfer
  • Programs to attract, direct and motivate several levels of talent to accelerate our assessment, development and marketing efforts, leveraging our regional partners and international pool of alumni
  • Early stage internal investments, matched by external state and foundation funds, in translational research and “gap funding” activities. The focus is on assessing commercialization hurdles and applying professional resources augmented with student talent to address these issues.
  • Providing a focus on critical competencies, as with our Venture Center for venture development. This provides a “hub” for entrepreneurs and venture partners to engage the university for start-up opportunities, an integrated set of resources managed by experienced professionals, and a system to partner with other university, regional and national organizations to foster venture and job creation.

Q: As Director of The University of Michigan’s EDA University Center, what difference is this program making at your university and the many other institutions that are part of this network?

A: The current economic climate gives the higher education system an opportunity and responsibility to be engaged in economic development, technical assistance, and job creation. The EDA University Center demonstrates the University of Michigan’s commitment to serving the public as an “engaged university,” a goal of this premier public research institution championed by U-M President Mary Sue Coleman and one that is shaping the culture of the institution.

Our University Center has been the lead in many demonstration projects that facilitate economic recovery and transformation, such as the EDA Community Economic Adjustment Program. Through these projects, our ideas, processes, and resources are used to develop replicable and scalable models for other institutions as they also work to build more resilient, innovative communities. Our partnerships with other university centers across the region allow us to share resources and ideas, and work together to enhance our collective capacity to serve our communities.

Nationally, the EDA University Center Program (PDF) provides a network of centers across the U.S. opening access to the expertise, knowledge, research, intellectual property and resources of the nation's higher education infrastructure to communities, regions, companies and individuals. Through organizations such as the University Economic Development Association, the Educational Association of University Centers and the Association of University Technology Managers, knowledge, experience and best practice are discussed and shared, contributing to continuous improvement and increased efficiency and effectiveness in our work.

Feature Article

Universities Can Drive Innovation and the Economy

Special to EDA from University of North Carolina Chancellor Holden Thorp

The U.S. economy of late has been driven by a series of bubbles. In the late 1990s, we had a technology bubble. When it burst, it was painful. In the late 2000s, we had a financial services and housing bubble. When that burst, it was nearly cataclysmic, and we're still living through its aftermath.

There are two things essential to finding our way out of this bubble cycle: to produce a steady stream of new jobs based on new ideas that address society's biggest problems and to have an education system that prepares students for jobs that probably won't even be created until they've finished their schooling.

In our recent book, "Engines of Innovation - The Entrepreneurial University in the 21st Century," Buck Goldstein and I assert that universities can help propel our economy to a prosperous and more egalitarian future. Universities – specifically research universities – are the most meaningful response to President Obama's "Sputnik moment."

Universities occupy a unique position – somewhere between government, religion and private enterprise. Even in these tight economic times, universities have a lot of financial and intellectual resources. They also have brilliant faculty members and a generation of students committed to making a difference in the world.

Universities thrive on big problems, and society has plenty of them. In the words of Stanford’s President John Hennessy, “If the universities don’t work on the world’s biggest problems, who will?”

As David Brooks said in his recent column, “The Talent Magnet,” universities provide a model for how nations (and presumably regions) should drive job growth – by creating an entrepreneurial environment and attracting talent. The presence of a university in a region provides a head start on this process.

But we can further increase the impact of universities by building on their unique culture. Here are some ideas for going about that:

Make innovation inclusive

The entrepreneurial university is often based on the liberal arts education model, which has fueled American innovation for centuries. The study of the humanities and social sciences are critical to the skills and worldview needed by successful entrepreneurs in all sectors.

We should broaden the definition of innovation and entrepreneurship to include the whole university rather than to a handful of scientist-inventors. The great problems to be addressed are not limited to technical challenges like diabetes and solar energy, but include maladies like racism, poverty and conflict. These huge challenges are in many cases better described by the humanities and fine arts than in other areas of the academy.

Let the community set the tactics

Innovation needs to be bottom-up. Leaders aren’t close enough to the actual ideas and talent to make the right judgments, and when we do make choices, we sometimes close out ideas and talent that might ultimately be the best.

The entrepreneurial university puts culture ahead of structure. It ignores traditional institutional silos, and it doesn’t spend time developing new programs, institutes and departments. It does focus on developing an environment that thrives on problem solving, celebrates risk taking and accepts a certain amount of failure as a necessary component of the learning process.

Partnering with entrepreneurs

Thoughtfully constructed, partnerships with entrepreneurs from outside the academy can add to the scope and capacity of the university without asking academics to take something away from their traditional scholarship in order to look beyond the walls of the campus.

Emphasize innovation and execution.

The entrepreneurial university values both innovation and execution. But innovation without execution has no impact, and academic communities are often less comfortable with the latter. Universities that get this right will see the highest payoff.

Policy Corner

America COMPETES Act Helps EDA Support Clusters that Drive Business Activity and Job Growth

The America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010, which President Obama recently signed into law, strengthens EDA's capacity to elevate regional innovation cluster development as a key driver of future jobs growth and accelerate the commercialization of new technologies, products, processes, and services.

COMPETES supports EDA's Jobs and Innovation Partnership framework through the establishment of a Regional Innovation Program to encourage and support the development of regional innovation strategies, including regional innovation clusters and science and research parks. It also formally establishes EDA's Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Department of Commerce to foster innovation and the commercialization of new technologies, products, processes, and services with the goal of promoting productivity and economic growth in the United States.

The new law advances the Obama administration's innovation agenda by doubling funding to our nation's basic research agencies; boosting investment in high-risk, high-reward energy technology development; and improving science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education.  

In a recent statement, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke noted, "These innovative programs and initiatives at the U.S. Department of Commerce, with the help of the America COMPETES Act, will help create jobs here at home, make our businesses more competitive abroad and strengthen the foundation of our economy."

The full text of the law can be found here.

Process Improvement Update

In October 2009, EDA announced several important changes to its grant application and review process. These changes built upon EDA's existing reputation for superior customer service, ensuring our stakeholders that EDA's grant-making process be as efficient, transparent, and competitive as possible. Staff in EDA's Regional Offices recently completed the first round of reviews for applications submitted since the launch of the improvement initiative. We are happy to report that each Regional Office received a number of competitive and highly competitive applications for funding and informed all applicants of their status within the 20 days promised from the December 15 application deadline. Overall, EDA received 120 applications.

March 10, 2011 is the deadline for funding cycle 2.

EDA Funding Supports the Innovation
Economy in Illinois

Submitted by EDA Chicago Regional Office

Role of University Technology Park at IIT

ITT BuildingThe success of the U.S. innovation economy is rooted in the drive of entrepreneurial individuals to create products that serve human needs, and provide themselves with financial rewards and the satisfaction of developing successful enterprises in the process. Since the 1980's, the U.S. has attempted to accelerate the innovation process by supporting technology transfer from university research laboratories to support innovation in the market place. However, in the Chicagoland area, one missing element for technology development was the availability of affordable, flexible laboratory space for the incubation of nascent technologies.

On September 14, 2009, the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) was awarded a $4.5 million ARRA grant by the Economic Development Administration (EDA) to refurbish a building from the 1940's that will be used as a technology incubator. It was one of the largest grants ever given by the EDA for a technology incubator. This funding, combined with a $2 million matching grant from the State of Illinois, will enable the University Technology Park at IIT (UTP) to complete 28,000 square feet of Incubator space that will house up to 30 start-up companies in the biotechnology, clean/green technology, IT, food technology, diagnostics, and other high-tech industries. The design of the technology Incubator space accommodates 15 wet-labs, 9 dry-labs and 6 offices plus a shared equipment room with autoclave, glass washer, freezer, refrigerator, ice maker and centrifuge. UTP began construction in September of 2011 with a projected completion date of May, 2011.

In addition to the EDA, the Incubator’s strategic partners include all levels of government--state, federal, and local-- that have provided capital and operations funding for the park, while the Illinois Institute of Technology, the host institution, has provided the buildings and land. UTP also has benefited from partnerships with many non-profit associations and economic development organizations including the Illinois Biotechnology Organization, Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center, World Business Chicago, and the Illinois Venture Capital Association.

University Technology Park at IIT plays a significant role in fostering technology transfer of innovations to the marketplace and the economy. Says David Baker, Vice President of External Affairs and UTP Executive Director, “We developed University Technology Park (UTP) to create an innovation ecosystem in Chicago. University Technology Park has consciously sought to support both university-based and non-university start-up companies. Our key role has been to attract and concentrate government and private funding to build the sophisticated laboratory facilities needed for life sciences and clean technology start-up and growth companies in Illinois. By doing this, we have succeeded in keeping companies in the Chicago region—for lack of available, affordable laboratory space.”

Regarding the Incubator’s economic impact, a feasibility assessment indicated that technology-based start-ups average 6 to 10 employees and generate higher average salaries at various educational levels than many other types of start-ups. Illinois currently projects such positions to generate salaries averaging $60,000 to $75,000, in excess of the median household income areas adjacent to the project site. When full, the Incubator will house 30 companies with over 100 employees.

The project’s job creation impact will not be limited to highly educated employees. Direct and indirect jobs will be created as the Incubator feeds growing companies into graduation space also located in the technology park. IIT and the City Colleges of Chicago will collaborate in identifying job opportunities in these companies and training local residents and others to fill them.

More details about UTP and its current client companies can be found at

Federal Funding Opportunity

US Labor Dept Encourages Applications for Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grant Program

The U.S. Department of Labor recently announced a solicitation for grant applications under the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grant Program. The Labor Department will award approximately $500 million this year through the program and a total of $2 billion over the next four years.

Grants will support the development and improvement of postsecondary programs of two years or less that use evidence-based or innovative strategies to prepare students for successful careers in growing and emerging industries. The program will be administered by the Labor Department in coordination with the U.S. Department of Education.

Click here to read the full Solicitation for Grant Applications.


RestoreYourEconomy.orgEDA & IEDC Launch to Support Regional Economic Recovery Efforts

From U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary Brian P. McGowan

McGowan led the White House National Incident Command Economic Solutions Team, charged to help communities and regions mitigate the impacts of the BP Oil Spill. This initiative is part of EDA's goal to support collaborative regional innovation to promote sustainable job growth and strengthen communities that have suffered disproportionate economic and job losses to become more competitive in the global economy.

Through our work in the Gulf Coast's recovery efforts, I had the opportunity to meet with community leaders along the Gulf who spent the last five years rebuilding their local economy in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, only to turn around and face another disaster with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

As part of the White House National Incident Command (NIC) Economic Solutions Team, which we were asked to form to help communities and regions mitigate the impacts of the oil spill, I visited with and listened to many of these leaders who were seeking solutions to help ensure the long-term resiliency of their community's economy.

After the initial emergency response and when the media spotlight goes away – the hard work of economic recovery begins. In retrospect, and as a former city and county government official, I think about how a tool designed to facilitate communication and collaboration would have been so valuable to those communities as they took on this daunting task. The difficult work completed and lessons learned in restoring local economies in this region of the country should serve as a powerful tool to other communities who are dealing with disasters or making the plans to ensure they are prepared when future disasters hit.

Now, I'm pleased to announce that there is such a tool. The U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) partnered with the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) to launch, a website that provides critical information for public and private stakeholders seeking to rebuild their local economies after a disaster, as well, as assistance to prepare their business community for a future disasters. The portal is a vital one-stop shop of resources, tools, events and an opportunity to connect with other cities, states and regions. In fact, is was recently used extensively in Australia as communities there were dealing with severe flooding. enables the sharing of best practices in making preparations to reduce the economic consequences of a disaster. It also provides practical guidance and post-recovery tools to promote investment, to retain local employment, and restore lost jobs.

I encourage communities that have been affected by a disaster or those working to be prepared for future disasters to take advantage of this invaluable resource.

EDA-funded Indiana University
Innovation Index Releases 2011 Results

Indiana UniversityThe Indiana University Business Research Center's Innovation Index helps regions determine their capacity for innovation, providing actionable data to guide critical public and private investments and to formulate effective development strategies that foster economic growth.

The IBRC provides this and other regional assessment tools as part of an EDA funded project for assessing regional competitiveness in America. Click here for more information.

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Locals, federal official meet as University of Toledo vies for $46M solar energy grant

Wednesday, Dr. Jacobs was one of the many local officials to meet with John Fernandez, an assistant secretary of commerce for economic development in the Obama Administration. Mr. Fernandez, in Ohio to stump for President Obama's Tuesday night address, was the keynote speaker Wednesday night at the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments' annual general assembly meeting at the Holiday Inn French Quarter in Perrysburg Township.

Read article.


College of Southern Idaho gets $4.4 million for new tech center

The College of Southern Idaho received a $4.4 million federal [EDA] grant Wednesday [January 19] to help bring a nearly $7 million technology center to Twin Falls. The Applied Technology and Innovation Center will provide a consolidated home for CSI's renewable energy programs.

Read article.

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In This Issue


Guide to Federal Opportunities

EDA's Univ Center at Univ of
Michigan CEAP

Click here to access the CEAP Resource Guide

Since 2006 the University of Michigan's Community Economic Adjustment Program has been assisting communities in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and Wisconsin that are experiencing hardship resulting from manufacturing plant closures, particularly as a consequence of the restructuring of the automotive industry.

With support from EDA and assistance from its partners at the Center for Automotive Research, Purdue University, Cleveland State University, and Ohio University, CEAP has developed a methodology of intervention that both empowers and assists communities in initiating and implementing projects and programs to address the socioeconomic dislocation that has resulted.

To help communities communicate and strategize, CEAP convenes focus groups that bring together local stakeholders to identify critical needs and potential projects.

At CEAP workshops, stakeholders meet with federal, state, and nonprofit agency representatives to match potential projects with available program opportunities. Facilitating that connection are the very popular CEAP Resource Guides, which provide detailed, regularly updated information on federal, state, and foundation grants and other funding sources.

Finally, realizing that communities are often challenged by personnel and time constraints, CEAP provides no cost research and grant writing assistance for specific projects. Together, these program components provide a roadmap for effective response to plant closure, job loss, and the resulting economic and social distress that continue to reverberate through our communities and regions.

Visit the University of Michigan CEAP page

EDA Applauds President Obama's Focus on Jobs, Innovation and Competitiveness in State of the Union

1590 WAKR Logo

Assistant Secretary Fernandez discusses President Obama's State of the Union Address on the Ray Horner News Morning Radio Show live in Akron, Ohio. Click here to listen.

"At stake is whether new jobs and industries take root in this country, or somewhere else. It's whether the hard work and industry of our people is rewarded. It's whether we sustain the leadership that has made America not just a place on a map, but a light to the world."
- President Barack Obama

Read Complete State of the Union Address

During last week's State of the Union address, President Obama outlined a clear and focused framework to win the future by creating jobs for workers, promoting American innovation and increasing U.S. competitiveness.

The economy is growing stronger but we still have work to do to help the millions of people that are either out of work or struggling to offset their shrinking paychecks with rising costs.

EDA supports the steps President Obama laid out to out-innovate, out-educate and out-build the rest of the world and the agency is well positioned to help lead this effort as the only federal agency with its sole focus as economic development.

Over the last two years, EDA has targeted its investments to accelerate the commercialization of American innovation as a vehicle to create jobs and build competitive regions.

There is no reason why 80 percent of America's electricity should not come from clean sources, including wind, solar, nuclear, clean coal and natural gas and EDA will work with the Department of Commerce and the White House to do just that. Clean energy breakthroughs will translate into clean energy jobs for America's workers and make us more competitive in the global marketplace.

In line with the work of EDA's Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, the goal to increase the nation's R&D investments, as a share of GDP, to their highest levels since the Kennedy administration is timely and an important step forward. We will support America's scientists and engineers who are aggressively working to invent new clean energy technologies that will lead the world.

We face big challenges, and fixing them will require a lot of hard work and sacrifice from everyone. Working together, we will lay the foundation for American competitiveness for years to come and give this generation, and pass on to the next, the type of America that our parents and grandparents left for us.

EDA Seeks Public Comment on Regulations

The U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) is asking its stakeholders to help the agency update its regulations so it can more effectively partner with communities and organizations to create jobs and economic growth. Today, EDA published a Federal Register Notice requesting public comment on the agency's regulations, particularly ways EDA can revise the process to provide better economic development services. We encourage you to share your thoughts and ideas about EDA's regulations, where you can also see the ideas others have submitted.

EDA's regulations are an important tool for the agency's economic development assistance programs as they provide the framework through which the agency selects, awards, and administers its investments. The agency is particularly interested in learning of any perceived impediments to contemporary economic development practices that are produced as a cause or consequence of a particular regulation. Although EDA welcomes comments on all of its regulations, the agency requests particular input on how the regulations impact the creation and growth of Regional Innovation Clusters (RICs) and property management issues.

Read President Obama's Executive Order calling for a government-wide review of all regulations and his editorial in the Wall Street Journal calling for a 21st-century regulatory system.

EDA in the Field

January 26, 2011 - Assistant Secretary Fernandez talks with University of Toledo's President Lloyd Jacobs, during the Toledo MACOG general assembly. (THE BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH)

January 26, 2011 - Assistant Secretary Fernandez talks with University of Toledo's President Lloyd Jacobs, during the Toledo MACOG general assembly. (THE BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH)

January 18, 2011 - Assistant Secretary Fernandez participates in the North Carolina Trade and Investment Seminar and Signing Ceremony in Durham, N.C., hosted by China's Ministry of Commerce in conjunction with Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit to the U.S.

January 18, 2011 - Assistant Secretary Fernandez participates in the North Carolina Trade and Investment Seminar and Signing Ceremony in Durham, N.C., hosted by China's Ministry of Commerce in conjunction with Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit to the U.S.

Careers @ EDA

Program Analyst (Performance Data)- MAP - Current/Former Federal Status Employees or VEOA eligibles

Program Analyst (Performance Data)- DEU (All U.S. Citizens)


Upcoming Economic Development Events

February 6 – 11, 2011

U.S. Department of Commerce
High Tech Business Development Mission
New Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai, India

February 14, 2011

Release of President Obama's 2012 Budget Proposal

February 13 – 15, 2011

National Association of Regional Councils (NARC)
2011 National Conference of Regions

Washington, DC

March 20 – 23, 2011

National Association of Development Organizations (NADO)
2011 Washington Policy Conference

Arlington, Virginia

March 29-30, 2010

Center for Automotive Research
Roads to Renewal II
Dearborn, Michigan

April 4-8, 2011

Hannover MESSE Energy
Hannover, Germany

May 10-12, 2011

EDA Austin Regional Conference
Albuquerque, NM image