The University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) held the grand opening of its 13D Research and Strategy Innovation Center today on the Orville E. Kean Campus on St. Thomas. 

 Named after long-time philanthropic supporter 13D Research and Strategy, a St. Thomas-based global research firm, the 18,000-square foot center is designed to inspire creativity and collaboration. The Innovation Center will serve as a hub for students, entrepreneurs, startups, researchers and businesses, providing them with the resources and support they need to turn their ideas into reality. 

 “The idea and vision behind UVI’s 13D Research and Strategy Innovation Center is really creativity in action. The idea was born out of the collective minds and souls of this institution and out of our need to ensure that our strategic plan ‘Greatness Through Innovation’ had a concrete manifestation of its mission,” said Dr. David Hall, president of the University of the Virgin Islands. “The goal of this center is to help students, faculty and the community to be the architects of those next generations of technology.” 

 “The $3 million gift from 13D Research founder Kiril Sokoloff creates an endowment that can be used to continuously expose our students and our community to the latest technology and insights that are available,” said President Hall, noting that the center is not limited to engineering and computer science, but every discipline at UVI  will utilize the center to stimulate creativity and innovation in their field. 

 Currently home to UVI’s Center for Excellence in Leadership and Learning (CELL) Culinary Arts program and aviation simulation training program, the Innovation Center will house a variety of tenants, including business and technology start-ups, and provide office space as well as a creativity and innovation lab, artificial intelligence room, technology lecture space, classrooms and conference rooms where students, faculty, and community members can come together to collaborate on the exploration of new ideas, techniques and designs. 

“I was extremely excited about helping this community,” said Sokoloff, who has supported UVI over the years through his company’s sponsorship of the annual 13D Student Entrepreneurial Competition and the University’s Distinguished Professorship of Entrepreneurship. “With the combination of the entrepreneurship program and the Innovation Center, I truly believe we will see some amazing and hopeful progress in our community,” he said. “I am deeply proud to be involved in this venture.” 

 Inviting other members of the community to support the University, Foundation of the University of the Virgin Islands (FUVI) board member Bradley Ebersol said, “If you are inspired today by some of the speakers and some of the ideas you’ve heard, we suggest that you look toward the Foundation as an opportunity to make a tax-deductible contribution that will go to your priority. UVI is leading in major ways, taking things from theory to practical action.”  

 Speakers at the grand opening included donor Kiril Sokoloff and Woody Preucil, senior managing director of 13D Research; author and futurist, Pascal Finette, who delivered the keynote address, and local elected public officials.  

 UVI’s first Dean of Innovation and Student Success, Dr. Pamela Moolenaar-Wirsiy, served as the event’s master of ceremony and was instrumental in bringing the Innovation Center to life. “I want the dreamers and the idea authors to look at this space and know that they can literally and physically make their dreams come true,” she said. 

 Those in attendance had the opportunity to participate in immersive tours and demonstrations of the innovative technology in the Center as well as sample beverages from the onsite café and juice bar. 

The grand opening was livestreamed for public viewing and is available on UVI’s Facebook and YouTube pages.    

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