William Hoffman, Director of Communications and
Community Affairs at the University of Minnesota's Institute of
Medical Biotechnology, gave a talk entitled "Electronic Connections:
How Web Pages Make a Region" on Thursday, November 16, 2000
at 3:00 p.m. in Charter Hall 225 on the campus of Southwest State
William Hoffman is director of communications at
the University of Minnesota's Institute of Medical Biotechnology.
He did his undergraduate study in history at St. John's University
in Collegeville and at the University of Minnesota. He earned
a master's degree in journalism and mass communication from the
University of Minnesota in 1976. Since 1983 he has worked in the
University Medical School as a science editor and writer, coordinator
of pre-graduate and community educational programs in bioscience
and biomedical engineering, and as a liaison for University-industry
interaction. He created the regional web portal MBBNet in 1995
as a way of networking the state's medical and bioscience-based
industries; connecting faculty, students, and entrepreneurs with
these industries; and marketing Minnesota globally over the Internet.
He has coauthored a book (A Parent's Guide to Heart Disorders,
University of Minnesota Press, 1988) and several scientific papers
on chromosomes and cancer.
Rapid advances in communications technology are
reshaping the economic landscape. Yet even in a time of instantaneous
global communication, leading experts agree that innovation is
more and more likely to take place in regions and locales. Innovative
regions or "clusters" succeed because of the experience, expertise,
inventiveness and drive of the people in them - the entrepreneurs,
investors, business managers, university researchers and teachers,
and community leaders. The World Wide Web makes it possible to
link together all the participants in an innovative region on
a single Web Site, called a Web portal or regional Web gateway.
A Web portal provides a means for rapid communication among the
participants in a regional cluster. It also makes it possible
for regional clusters with comparable strengths and interests
to link together, enabling them to learn from each other and establish
relationships for mutual benefit. The University of Minnesota's
MBBNet, serving the healthcare and bioscience community with an
online listing of more than 900 organizations, is an example of
a regional Web portal. Its link to the Zurich Region of Switzerland
- the MBBNet-Zurich MedNet Link - is an example of regional clusters
partnering to learn from each other in the fields of education,
R&D, entrepreneurship, medical and food/plant technology, healthcare
services, and distance learning.
- Minnesota's virtual medical and bioscience community
Economy - University-affiliated virtual and networked communities
The Minnesota - Switzerland
Column: "Neighborhood Outposts on the Economic Frontier,"
April 5, 1999 (personal column on regional dynamics)