Electronic Connections: How Web Pages Make a Region
The MBBNet Regional Web Portal: Building Community, Critical Mass and a Global Link

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 University.

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.

MBBNet - Minnesota's virtual medical and bioscience community
The New Economy - University-affiliated virtual and networked communities
The Minnesota - Switzerland Link
The Doric Column: "Neighborhood Outposts on the Economic Frontier," April 5, 1999 (personal column on regional dynamics)

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Southwest Minnesota State University
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Phone: (507) 537-6226
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Last updated: March 21, 2006