Principal & CEO
Trent Williams is Principal and CEO at Regional Technology Strategies, Inc. (RTS). Over the last several decades Mr. Williams has led numerous public policy and private development efforts in a wide range of economic development, business formation, developmental finance, industrial competitiveness, technology management, strategic planning, and education and training endeavors. He has served as a Founding Board Member of eight technology companies and as a Board Member of three capital companies, as well as a team faculty member for the UNC Business Launch Course for faculty and graduate students at the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology Venturing. Mr. Williams also serves as economic development adviser to the Rapides Foundation of Alexandria, Louisiana.
Mr. Williams joined RTS in 1994. His other professional experience includes service in positions as Undersecretary of the Louisiana Department of Commerce and Vice President and Research Director at Gulf South Research Institute. In this capacity, Mr. Williams served as project leader for a U.S. Department of Commerce project to develop an instructional course for technology transfer from all Federal labs and then to train lab representatives and government officials to use the course within the labs (1987). He also had primary management responsibility for planning, funding, and establishing the Louisiana Entrepreneur’s Network (1985) and served as executive consultant to the Board and President of the Arkansas Science and Technology Authority where he helped develop the state’s incubator program for Governor Bill Clinton. (1986). He also directed a project in Louisiana to develop a state technology policy; to train personnel at 16 universities to inventory, transfer and manage technologies; and to establish technology transfer offices at these universities (1985). This large economic development project included inventorying and commercially assessing 300 technologies from the state’s universities.
Recent efforts at RTS include an analysis of serial entrepreneur and investor networks in the Greater Los Angeles area for the Kauffman Foundation’s Innovation Fund America Initiative; an analysis of the future economy of a ten parish region in central Louisiana and recommendations for crafting a workforce development system that will produce the talent and skills to fill those jobs with qualified people; and an analysis of serial entrepreneur and investor networks in nine industrial sectors in Denmark for CommonWeal, Inc. Other recent leadership activities include projects to develop a science and technology strategy for the State of South Dakota, develop a strategic plan for Montana’s optics cluster, develop a strategic plan update for the Montana Bioscience Alliance and develop and apply a new regional innovation index in central Louisiana. Prior to that he led a project to evaluate the Kentucky Science and Technology Corporation’s R&D Support, Commercialization Investment programs and to update the Commonwealth’s Science and Technology Strategy as well as a project to create a regional growth plan for eastern South Dakota that ties private sector strengths to existing and emerging research enterprise and talent assets with the regional universities. He also recently led a five-year project to assist the Governor’s Office of Montana implementing strategies to advance the state’s information technology and biotechnology sectors. Mr. Williams also led an RTS’ project to develop a strategic plan to foster university technology development and commercialization throughout Louisiana for the Board of Regents and the Louisiana Recovery Authority.
Immediately prior to joining RTS Mr. Williams served as Executive Vice President of the Louisiana Partnership for Technology and Innovation. During his five-year tenure at the Louisiana Partnership, Mr. Williams managed the organization’s pre-seed investment portfolio. These activities included identifying and qualifying new investment opportunities, guiding due diligence activities, structuring and negotiating fundings and actively participating with management (both at the Board level and on a day-to-day basis) in the development and continuous implementation of all aspects of a client company’s business plan. At any given time, the Partnership portfolio typically consisted of 18-20 equity positions in technology intensive start-up companies as well as technical/business assistance activities for an additional 20 to 30 companies. He also led the Partnership’s industrial competitiveness and technology policy efforts at the state, regional and national levels.
Mr. Williams has authored numerous articles and papers published by organizations such as the New York Academy of Sciences, the Corporation for Enterprise Development, the Aspen Institute, the Southern Growth Policies Board, the Southern Technology Council, and FORMEDIA (Lisbon, Portugal) and has served as chair, co-chair, or member of over 20 state, regional and national committees, task forces, and councils including Co-Chair of the Southern Technology Council. During his tenure as Southern Technology Council Co-Chair, Mr. Williams guided the development of the first regional technology-based economic development plan in the U.S., Turning to Technology: A Strategic Plan for the Nineties. This 1989 plan was recognized as “required ready for the rest of the country” by U.S. Commerce Secretary, Robert Mosbacher.