Awards recognize success attracting international UAS investment to region

The U.S. Commercial Service presented the UND Center for Innovation Foundation and Grand Forks Region Economic Development Corporation (EDC) with special recognitions for their success attracting foreign direct investment into the region’s unmanned systems cluster, one of the nation’s prominent high tech clusters in a rural state.

Newly appointed Director General of the U.S. Commercial Service Erin Walsh, North Dakota Lt. Governor Brent Sanford, and North Dakota Commerce Commissioner Jay Schuler presented the honors as part of a lunch seminar on Oct. 11.

William Paulin, entrepreneur in residence at the UND Center for Innovation Foundation, and Terry Sando, former UAS Sector Senior Manager for the EDC, were recognized for their collaboration with the State of North Dakota to attract international interest in the Grand Forks region’s UAS ecosystem.  Paulin and Sando had traveled to countries including Israel, Finland, and Norway to attract UAS commercialization opportunities.

They have supported the attraction of  entrepreneurial companies from Norway, Finland, Israel and the Czech Republic that have invested significantly in the region and state since 2014 and hired staff to inspect energy infrastructure and farm crops. And countries such as Austria and Poland are in line to enter via this growing North Dakota channel to the USA.

“Since 2009 the EDC has had a business developer dedicated to the unmanned systems industry. The EDC was fortunate to have Terry as part of our team, leveraging his expertise, leadership and enthusiasm for the region’s capabilities to raise awareness and draw international companies into the region, helping enhance our UAS ecosystem,” said EDC President & CEO Keith Lund.  “We continue to invest in business expansion and attraction initiatives to support the exciting and dynamic unmanned and autonomous industry.”

Sando recently was named the U.S. business operations manager for eSmart Systems, a Norwegian company expanding in the region.

Paulin specializes in strategic management, globalization and venture development of high-tech and entrepreneurial client organizations. He has participated in the successful launch, management and growth of many U.S. and European based firms into global markets.

The Center for Innovation Foundation has worked with Norwegian entrepreneurs for over 25 years, and since 2006 has been one of 26 incubators and entrepreneur centers worldwide designated as a ‘Soft Landings International Incubator’, being especially helpful to international entrepreneurs entering a new global market,” said Bruce Gjovig, CEO Emeritus  of the Center of Innovation Foundation. “Bill Paulin has made strong relationships with entrepreneurs in Finland and Norway, which was key to attracting these UAS entrepreneurs to our UAS ecosystem.”

U.S. Commercial Service is the trade promotion arm of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration.