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.


Kris Burton

Kris Burton

Director of Technology Commercialization

Kris Burton focuses on transferring knowledge and technology from the university to organizations and companies that can put it to profitable use. Contact her if your company has an interest in commercializing university technology, using university facilities, or collaborating with the university to complete a research project. Burton is the point of contact for faculty and staff who are working with industry or who have developed intellectual property with commercial applications. Burton received a B.S. from Texas Tech University and an M.S. from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She has prior professional experience in academia, government, small business and Fortune 500 companies.

James BeaupreJames Beaupré, Ph.D.
Innovation Engineer

James Beaupré is the University of Maine’s Innovation Engineer, the first such engineer world wide. In addition to 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.

Kathy Vinson
Administrative Specialist