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Innovation and Economic Development

Our Staff

Jake WardJake Ward
Vice President of Innovation and Economic Development

Jake Ward actively supports economic development projects at the University of Maine and in partnerships with many state and nonprofit programs. Originally from Saco, Maine, he holds a B.S. in mechanical engineering and an M.S. in ocean engineering from the University of New Hampshire. Prior to his current position at the University of Maine, Ward worked at the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and in private industry both in software and manufacturing.  Click for full biography.

Renee KellyRenee Kelly
Assistant Vice President for Innovation and Economic Development

Renee Kelly serves as a liaison to the state’s economic development community and works directly with innovation-driven businesses to help them reach their potential in the State of Maine.  She leads the University’s entrepreneurship and innovation support activities including the Foster Center for Student Innovation, which helps students become innovators and entrepreneurs. Renee also leads UMaine’s efforts in the Innovation Engineering Institute, a collaboration to commercialize its Innovation Engineering curriculum with education institutions worldwide. Prior to joining the university, she developed new training products for Manpower of Connecticut, did marketing for a financial services startup in San Diego, CA and served as an aide to then U.S. Representative Olympia J. Snowe.  She received her A.B. from Smith College and has worked at UMaine since 1997.

Veena Dinesh
Director of Business Incubation

Veena is the Director of Business Incubation at the University of Maine’s Foster Center for Student Innovation. Veena provides business coaching support to entrepreneurs in their early stages of forming a business enterprise and helps them set milestones to create commercially viable business ventures. She is also involved in supporting entrepreneurial activities by providing access to resources and programs available for innovators on campus and in the Bangor region.

Veena comes with global experience in nucleating and nurturing early stage technology and knowledge based companies from ideation to market entry. She is passionate about cultivating innovation and entrepreneurship in the community. She has a diverse range of experience in working with technology as well as arts startups.

James BeaupreJames Beaupré, Ph.D.
Director of Industrial Cooperation

James Beaupré is responsible for creating, communicating and commercialize meaningfully unique ideas for the University of Maine, Beaupré currently instructs courses in innovation and chemical engineering. His scientific background is in paper making processes specifically in water removal and is a patented inventor in the field. Beaupré has a B.S. in chemical engineering from the University of Maine (2007) and a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of Maine (2012).

Chris Coplin
Fiscal and Administrative Officer

Chris Coplin oversees and supervises all departmental bookkeeping and accounting of more than 300 project accounts with annual revenues exceeding $4.1 million. Coplin also manages office staff personnel and is the contact person for the department.

Karen Lidral

Karen Lidral
Grant Manager and Fiscal Officer

Karen Lidral is responsible for reviewing industrial contracts, purchasing materials for all Office of Innovation and Economic Development projects, and managing grants received in the department. Raised in Saco, Maine, Lidral is a 2005 University of Maine graduate with a bachelor’s degree in music. Lidral has worked at UMaine since 2006, and currently works remotely from Boise, Idaho.

Angela McCue
Innovation Outreach Manager

As the Innovation Outreach Manager, Angela supports the innovation and economic development initiatives at the other six University of Maine System campuses in addition to working with organizations on how to lead innovation systems. Angela also oversees the strategic and day-to-day marketing and communication efforts, as well as manages the Innovate for Maine Fellows program. The Innovate for Maine Fellows program brings students and companies together through the University of Maine to collaborate on innovative projects that will accelerate company growth and give students a paid, meaningful, hands-on internship experience while providing subsidies and project support to participating companies.

Angela received a Bachelor’s in English from Coastal Carolina University and went on to earn a Master’s in English from the University of Maine..

Emma Wilson
Entrepreneurship Events & Marketing Coordinator

Emma is the Marketing Manager for Bangor Area Target Development Corporation and is also the president of Odigo, one of the incubating companies at the UpStart Center for Entrepreneurship.  She began her work with Odigo as an Innovate for Maine fellow, and eventually took over the day to day operations of the company, which is working to bring a new home composting solution to market.

Kathy Vinson
Administrative Specialist