Paula Sorrell is the Associate Vice President of Innovation and Economic Development at George Mason University. She oversees an extended team of 200 across Virginia that include the Office of Technology Transfer, the federal and state programs that provide counseling and training to small business and entrepreneurship (SBDC, PTAC, WBC, CDFI, ICAP, ICORPS and others), regional investor events, six business incubators in Northern Virginia, and 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 ‘Technology Commercialization’ and ‘Reimagining Companies through Innovation’ in the University of Michigan College of Engineering’s Center for Entrepreneurship. At U of M, she developed and oversaw 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 a $133 ROI. She also was the Principal Investigator for research in economic development, including mapping the entrepreneurial ecosystem, best practices in the development of commercial ethnic districts, and national best practices in technology commercialization.
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 created programs 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. All start-ups resulted in successful sale of the company, or are still a going concern. She was an early founding member of the 20-year-old SBDC Tech Team, a business consulting group that helps early stage companies raise $70 Million each year.
Paula serves on the governing boards of the Virginia Innovation Partnership Authority and the American Lightweight Materials Manufacturing Institute, several local economic and innovation-focused advisory boards, and the leadership committee of the State Science and Technology Institute, and is a National Science Foundation reviewer. She holds bachelor and master degrees in business from Central Michigan University, and a certified board member through Harvard Business School’s executive education.