Paula Sorrell is the Associate Vice President of Innovation and Economic Development at George Mason University. She oversees the Office of Technology Transfer, the Virginia Small Business Development Center state headquarters, the Procurement Technical Assistance Center, business incubators in Fairfax, Warrenton, Loudoun, and the entrepreneurial programming for the innovation development in Arlington, as well as the maker spaces and entrepreneurial programming at Mason. She joined after a position as Director of the Economic Growth Institute at the University of Michigan and taught undergraduate through Masters students from 11 schools (primarily business and engineering) in the University of Michigan College of Engineering’s Center for Entrepreneurship. At U of M, she developed and executed a strategic plan to grow the Institute, while overseeing award-winning programs (IEDC, APLU) to build lab-to-market activities in partnership with 15 public research universities, resulting in 213 new products launched and for every public dollar invested, there was a $133 ROI. She also was the Principle Investigator for research in economic development, including best practices in the development of commercial ethnic districts, and best practices in technology commercialization across 59 public research universities.
She served for four years as Vice President of Entrepreneurship, Innovation & Venture Capital for the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, overseeing $1B under management and $110 Million in new investments to build Michigan’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, including university research and tech transfer programs, technology service providers, tech incubators across the state, seed funding programs, portfolio investments and fund of funds. She developed a series of programs to increase lab-to-market activities, resulting in an expansion of tech start-ups and funding mechanisms that resulted in a 32:1 return on investment for public dollars. She developed a marketing program overseeing inside and agency support to draw more than $600M of capital and talent to Michigan’s tech economy, and turned around a 65,000 square foot biotech incubator into a profitable entity.
She has held senior management roles at seven early technology companies, holding the chief marketing position responsible for developing go-to-market strategy and brand image. All start-ups resulted in successful sale of the company, or are still a going concern. She was an early founding member of the 17-year-old SBDC Tech Team, a group that helps early stage companies raise $70 Million each year. She has served on 15 non-profit and public boards, including the American Lightweight Materials Manufacturing Institute, 21st Century Fund of Funds I and II, TechTown Detroit, the Ann Arbor Local Development Finance Authority and a member of the National Academies of Science Government-University-Industry Research Roundtable. She also served on the Michigan Translational Research and Commercialization oversight committee and the leadership committee of the State Science and Technology Institute.