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David Weir
David Weir has announced plans to step down as director of the University of Delaware's Office of Economic Innovation and Partnerships.

David Weir to step down

Photo by Evan Krape

UD career includes leadership of Office of Economic Innovation and Partnerships

After a distinguished 20-year career at the University of Delaware, David Weir has announced his plans to step down as director of the Office of Economic Innovation and Partnerships (OEIP). The University will launch a national search to find a successor.

“David Weir’s impact on the University of Delaware and the state of Delaware is multifaceted,” said Charlie Riordan, vice president for research, scholarship and innovation. “He has been a driving force in the advancement of the University’s role in science and technology innovation critical to economic development. We are deeply grateful for his leadership and commitment to bringing ideas to practice.”

Robin Morgan, UD interim provost, said, “David Weir has dedicated two decades to building partnerships and advancing the University. He has forged numerous connections on- and off-campus, bringing people and organizations together to create, discover and innovate. Personally, I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to learn from him and work with him.”  

Weir, who is a native of Scotland, became interested in the United States, thanks to technology. When he was a youngster, his parents gave him a short-wave radio, and he would listen to the New York Yankees, a team he follows to this day.

He would go on to earn a Ph.D. in chemical physics from the University of Glasgow and then lectured at the University of St. Andrews before beginning a 35-year career with the DuPont Company in Wilmington, Delaware.

At DuPont, he held leadership positions in research, manufacturing and business. He was involved in the discovery of such well-known innovations as Lycra, Tyvek, Nomex and Kevlar. As vice president for research and development, he played a key role in expanding the company’s worldwide capabilities in plant science and biotechnology.

In 1998, Weir was appointed founding director of the Delaware Biotechnology Institute, a partnership of UD, the state and industry to help establish Delaware as a center of excellence in biotechnology and the life sciences. It was UD’s first institute to focus on interdisciplinary research and education.

Through the institute, Weir, as principal investigator, brought the first NSF Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) and NIH IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) grants to the state, which have yielded millions in funding for research, innovation and K–12 education programs to bolster the state’s capacity in the environmental and health sciences. Connected with these programs, Weir was a major catalyst in the formation of the first state Science and Technology Council under the chairmanship of then-Lt. Gov. John Carney. A state science and technology plan was an output.

As founding director of the Office of Economic Innovation and Partnerships (OEIP), an appointment he received in 2008, Weir worked with the state, Delaware Technology Park, numerous researchers and companies to expand an innovation culture and support more rapid commercialization of the University's technologies. He initiated “Spin In,” a novel program partnering entrepreneurs developing early stage innovations with teams of UD students with the skills — from technical to business, communications and policy know-how — to move them toward the marketplace.

Weir also formed a statewide small business economic development capability in OEIP by integrating the functional expertise of the Delaware Small Business Development Center, the Procurement Technical Assistance Center, UD’s Technology Transfer Center and Delaware Technology Park.

“Putting together organizations — the strategic part, the people part — he’s brilliant at that,” said Mike Bowman, president of Delaware Technology Park, who has worked with Weir for years. “David takes a blank white board and fills it up with big ideas.” 

Weir will remain in the director’s role until a replacement is found. Afterward, he will continue on at OEIP on a reduced schedule, working on special projects.

A search committee for the position is being formed now. To suggest nominations, contact Charlie Riordan at riordan@udel.edu.

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