Longtime North Dakota Entrepreneur, UAS Advocate Announces Retirement

GRAND FORKS, N.D. — The CEO of the University of North Dakota Center for Innovation has announced he will retire after 33 years on the job.

Bruce Gjovig

In the years since the center got its start in a campus building closet, Bruce Gjovig became a leading entrepreneur with two tech incubators under his guidance, according to a news release.

Under Gjovig, the center has become a headquarters for drone research and commercial activity, with two dozen unmanned aircraft systems-related companies calling it, including firms started by UND students.

“Our focus is on students and startups, helping them through the journey of innovation, entrepreneurship and capital formation,” Gjovig said in a statement. “More than 1,000 students and entrepreneurs have started their ventures through the Center for Innovation, and that is our true impact and measure of success – the professional practice of entrepreneurship.”

For 10 years Gjovig has been involved with the development of the UAS industry in North Dakota, including supporting and securing and managing grants for the development of Grand Sky, the nation’s first drone business park, the release said.

In the last two years, the center’s incubators have become host to 26 UAS entrepreneur ventures, more than any other incubator, accelerator or entrepreneur center in the nation. There are another 18 UAS entrepreneurs who have shown interest in being part of this UAS entrepreneur cluster to pursue commercial opportunities to use UAS technologies and capabilities to inspect energy infrastructure, agricultural fields and other sectors, the release said.

In February, the UND Center for Innovation Foundation secured a $1.2 M grant to install a first-of-its-kind solution to enable beyond-visual-line-of-sight  operations for unmanned aircraft systems in North Dakota out of Grand Sky, the release said.

The  Center for Foundation has received 16 national and international awards for excellence, and is slated to receive two international awards at the International Business Innovation Conference held March 27-28 in Seattle, including the Mixed-Use Incubator of the Year.

UND Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Thomas DiLorenzo will appoint an interim director of the Center for Innovatio, who also will fill the role of executive director of the UND School of Entrepreneurship.  That person will report to the provost office while a national search will be conducted to fill the position.