Message from the Director
1. Can you please explain in brief about BIRC?
Business Innovation Research Center at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth has been established to nurture economic growth in the Southcoast of Massachusetts by addressing the concerns of business community in an increasingly global economy. BIRC collaboratively works with the local business community, economic development boards and chambers of commerce in the region. BIRC is a university research center operates under the auspices of the Charlton College of Business. BIRC accomplishes its goals through a variety of approaches:
- Collaborating with companies and organizations (both profit and not-for-profit) in the Southcoast to tackle the challenges of today’s technology driven world
- Using the university’s faculty and student expertise and special resources to research the specific issues facing modern business in the Southcoast
- Providing advice and information on successfully participating in the international market
- Furthering knowledge about current and emerging topics in business and its practices through conferences, training programs, workshops and seminars
Promoting the exchange of information, ideas, and best practices:
- among businesses - local, regional, national and international
- between business and academia
The Center believes that a healthy and growing economy of the Southcoast depends on dynamic partnerships among businesses, faculty, students, and community groups. That philosophy is the foundation for its varied initiatives and activities. As BIRC organizes its programs and projects, the Center is focusing on small and medium-sized enterprises, which constitute an ever increasing part of the Southeastern Massachusetts’ economy.
2. What was the idea behind starting BIRC?
The main reason behind establishing BIRC is to support the economic growth in the Southcoast of Massachusetts through research, innovation and assistance. This could be achieved by leveraging the faculty expertise and student involvement in the projects. BIRC has been a gateway to enhance the outreach activities of the Charlton College of Business, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. BIRC has a strong business advisory board (BAB) consisting of senior executives from the Southcoast businesses. They are providing guidance on how best BIRC can engage the community with its activities including applied research, consulting projects, case studies, empirical research, seminars, workshops and training programs. The center was originally established based on the feedback from BAB in order to enhance the outreach activities (community engagement) in the Southcoast.
3. What contents and topics does a BIRC seminar cover?
BIRC Seminar Series is a regular activity with the objective of supporting the Southcoast businesses with their business plan, developing their awareness and skills in emerging areas of business including activity-based and value-based costing systems, enterprise resource planning, business process reengineering, logistics, supply chain management, e-commerce, financial plan, multicultural business environment, performance measures and metrics, strategic management, international business, marketing, sustainable business development, among others.
4. Which are the companies/organizations associated with BIRC?
BIRC has been associated with American Dryer Corporation, Newsgistics Freight Services, Immigration Assistance Center, Aerovox Corporation, Mattel, Nike Lacrosse Line, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island, UPS, Cape Cod Potato Chip Company, Meditech, Colonial Wholesale Beverage Corporation, St. Anne’s Credit Union, MacDonald’s, Wall-Mart, Swarovski, NAVSEA, Brahmin Leather Company, Jay Packaging, Winthrop Atkins, Mikel Inc., Monester Energy, Cadence Inc., Fuccillo ready mix, Coca-Cola, Boucher's automotive, Sodexo, W.B.Mason, Dunkin Donuts, Apple Inc, Lowe's, CVS, Barnes & Noble, Procter & Gamble, Best Buy, Stop & Shop, Forever 21, Levi Strauss & Company, Birmingham International Airport, Lindt & Sprungli, New Bedford Housing Authority, iCorps Technologies, Reliable Truss and Components, Duncan Industrial Solutions, Johnson & Johnson, Arsmedia, GAP Promotions, Olive Garden, Bank of America, Allegheny Ludlum Stainless Steel, Charlotte Russe Inc, Red Robin Gourmet Burger Inc, Santo Christo Federal Credit Union, just to name a few.
5. What are some of the major projects completed at BIRC in the Interests of the Southcoast?
We have conducted many case studies and empirical and data based research using the collected data both from both primary and secondary sources of the Southcoast companies. Some of them include:
- Competitiveness of SMEs in the Southcoast of Massachusetts
- E-Commerce in the Southcoast of Massachusetts
- TQM Practices in the Southcoast
- Entrepreneurship in the Southcoast of Massachusetts
- IT/IS in the Southcoast Companies
- Sustainable Business Development in the Southcoast
- Supply Chain Management and Logistics in the Southcoast of Massachusetts
- Resilience of the Southcoast SMEs
- Problems and Challenges faced by SMEs in the Southcoast of Massachusetts
6. Does BIRC work for the benefit of students and faculty at UMASS?
Students gain hands on experience working on real life projects with the Southcoast companies including not-for-profit companies. Students participate in seminars, workshops and training programs and receive certificates. These also provide opportunities for them to network with executives from the Southcoast companies and subsequently develop opportunities for internships and jobs after graduation.
Faculty of CCB have the opportunity first to network and then collaborate with the Southcoast business community. They are an integral part of BIRC resources as they contribute to the Southcoast community through organizing workshops, conferences and training programs in all business disciplines.
7. Is BIRC getting a good response? What are the future plans in terms of expanding BIRC?
BIRC has been in service to the Southcoast organizations including profit and not-for-profit organizations since 2006. It has been receiving good response for its services including consultancy projects and business advising. The future plans for BIRC includes (i) offer regional/international executive development certificate programs, (ii) increase the training programs in project management, supply chain management and six-sigma. The participants are from the Southcoast and overseas companies. Also, BIRC aims to engage with ATMC to complement each other competencies in the interest of the Southcoast business community. BAB of BIRC is leading the initiatives related to engaging SNEEF and regional chambers of commerce.
8. Does Chambers of commerce play any role for BIRC? Can you please elaborate more on this?
The chambers of commerce and economic development boards in the Southcoast have been engaged with the activities of BIRC. The President of New Bedford Chamber of Commerce has been serving on the business advisory board. In the future, BIRC will be an active participant of the Chambers of commerce in order to better engage the Southcoast business community. Also, BIRC works with SNEEF on issues of common interest to the Southcoast community.
9. Does BIRC give gives research opportunity to students?
Students and faculty are main resources for working on various projects related to the Southcoast community. Students are an integral part of all the BIRC projects. BIRC trains the students with project management skills and how to carry out real life projects in order to support the economic growth of the Southcoast. Both undergraduate and graduate students have worked on industrial projects with Southcoast businesses and presented their work at BIRC seminar series.
10. Is BIRC involved with international collaboration?
Yes, we have organized international workshops and conferences and consulted projects. We also had several speakers and visitors from overseas. BIRC in collaboration with other similar overseas research centers has successfully completed many projects.