Orsi to lead UB’s economic development efforts

Release Date: February 5, 2015 This content is archived.

Christina Orsi.

Christina Orsi

“She brings a wealth of experience that will help the university foster relationships between its many talented researchers and key business leaders."
Venu Govindaraju, interim vice president for research and economic development
University at Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. – Christina Orsi, a business development specialist who has helped guide Western New York’s economic resurgence, has been named associate vice president for economic development.

Her appointment was jointly announced today by the University at Buffalo and Empire State Development, where she most recently worked as regional director for Western New York.

Orsi has more than two decades of experience in economic development, a career that includes leadership roles for Empire State Development, the Buffalo Niagara Enterprise and the Buffalo Niagara Partnership. During that time, she has worked extensively with business leaders, elected officials, academia, nonprofits and public-sector organizations to create an environment where a variety of businesses — from startups to Fortune 500 companies — are in a position to succeed.

“We are extremely pleased to have Christina join the University at Buffalo,” said Venu Govindaraju, interim vice president for research and economic development at UB. “She brings a wealth of experience that will help the university foster relationships between its many talented researchers and key business leaders. In doing so, she will play a pivotal role in advancing UB’s mission to be an economic engine in Western New York and beyond.”

Orsi replaces Marion “Marnie” LaVigne, who is now CEO of Launch NY.

In her new role, Orsi will coordinate university-wide economic development efforts, many of which are administered through the Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development. This includes activities sponsored by federal and state governments, industry and foundations, and economic development programs such as START-UP NY.

“The opportunity to join the UB team enables me to leverage UB’s tremendous research expertise, entrepreneur resources and excellent academic programs to further the economic revitalization in Western New York,” Orsi said. “As Gov. Cuomo continues to emphasize the role SUNY plays in economic development, I will be able to help UB lead those efforts.”

“Christina Orsi's leadership as regional director of WNY Empire State Development has been instrumental in attracting new businesses, encouraging entrepreneurial ventures, focusing job training and transforming the region by capitalizing on its assets," said Howard Zemsky, incoming president and CEO of Empire State Development. “I look forward to continuing to work with Christina in her new economic development role with UB, which includes the attraction and nurturing of START-UP NY businesses in our region."

Orsi will oversee the Office of Economic Development (OED), which helps businesses and other community partners connect with UB researchers and resources, including workforce development training and equipment rental.

Additionally, she will work with principal investigators, business development executives and commercialization teams at:

  • UB’s New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences (CBLS), which supports groundbreaking life sciences research and technology-based economic development that connects university researchers with industry partners. The CBLS provides access to facilities and equipment, and helps organize such activities as an annual investor forum, entrepreneurial workshops and workforce-development programs that prepare Western New Yorkers for life sciences careers.
  • UB’s New York State Center of Excellence in Materials Informatics (CMI), which leverages UB’s materials science and advanced manufacturing expertise, employing data-intensive computer technology and other cutting-edge research techniques to develop and commercialize new materials.
  • UB’s Center for Advanced Biomedical and Bioengineering Technology (UB CAT), which supports collaboration between UB and industry by funding company research and development projects that leverage the expertise of UB researchers.

Orsi also will work with UB’s Office of Science, Technology Transfer and Economic Outreach (STOR), which runs the UB Technology Incubator near the North Campus and facilitates the commercialization of technologies invented by UB researchers, and the School of Management’s Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership, which provides participants with individualized and interactive education in entrepreneurship.

At Empire State Development, Orsi worked closely with Cuomo’s office to guide the region’s economic development efforts. She provided strategic direction for the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council and played an integral role in Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion economic development plan. Both initiatives are pushing Western New York’s economy toward advanced manufacturing, clean technology, life sciences and other knowledge-based industries.

Orsi helped launch 43North, the country’s largest business idea competition and develop Buffalo Manufacturing Works, a one-stop shop to help manufacturers grow through innovation, process improvement and workforce training. She also has assisted many companies, including Yahoo, New Era Cap Co., GEICO and Rich Products Corp., expand in Western New York.

Orsi has received the Amherst Chamber of Commerce Stewardship Award (2012) and the Western Region Corporation Outstanding Service Award (2012). She serves on the boards of the Buffalo Urban Development Corp. and Catholic Charities.

She earned an MS in public affairs and urban planning from UB and a BA in political science from SUNY Fredonia.

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