Texas Tech University

Innovation Initiatives Taking Hold

Glenys Young

March 31, 2021

The Texas Tech Research Park Inc. adds new board members with deep health care, new venture and growth experience.

On March 2, 2020, the nonprofit behind the planned innovation district for Lubbock and West Texas held its first board meeting, officially kicking off an effort already years in the making. With momentum on its side, perhaps it's no surprise that, even after most of the country shut down two weeks later, Texas Tech Research Park Inc. stayed busy during the past year.

The organization continued to develop a comprehensive study for planning the district that would position the research park to support economic growth and innovative industries in Lubbock. Texas Tech Research Park Inc. engaged with HR&A Advisors to better understand its potential role in being a catalytic driving force in the regional economy and how the interactions with the institution should evolve as our future economy expands and the needs, opportunities and challenges facing the region change.

The Texas Tech Research Park Inc. board met for the first time on March 2, 2020. Two weeks later, the nation shut down in response to COVID-19, but their work has not stopped.

Comprehensive community and leadership engagement efforts, including interviews concluding today (March 31) are intended to support market needs and program analyses to identify opportunities for the research park, define its collective vision and future role in the Lubbock economy's growth, and determine the best flexible governance and operations model to support the vision to engage industry and create economic opportunities.

To further those goals, while marking its first anniversary this month, Texas Tech Research Park Inc. added three new board members:
Dr. Bonnie Clipper, chief clinical officer for Wambi;
Jim Messemer, CEO of NJTX LLC; and
Vince Pierce, CEO and Managing Director of Level 1.

"I am thrilled and excited to have three new members joining the board," said Texas Tech Research Park Inc. board chairman John D. Esparza, president and CEO of the Texas Trucking Association, a former member of the Texas Tech University System's Board of Regents and a Texas Tech University alumnus in public relations. "Their collective valuable experiences in strategy, industry and health care will contribute to our vision of impacting the region for years to come."

Dr. Bonnie Clipper


Clipper is a top nurse influencer, accomplished health care executive, influential thought leader, start-up coach, international speaker and the chief clinical officer at Wambi, a real-time recognition and culture transformation platform intended to improve patient and employee experiences in health care. She was the first Vice President of Innovation at the American Nurses Association, where she created a road map to bring more than 4 million nurses into the innovation space. As an internationally recognized expert in the future of nursing and nursing innovation, her work on the publication, "The Innovation Roadmap: A Nurse Leader's Guide" was translated into Spanish and has been used in multiple countries. She was the lead author of the Amazon International best-selling book "The Nurse's Guide to Innovation." She publishes and blogs regularly on technologies impacting nursing, such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality and robotics. She is a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Executive Nurse Fellow alumna; a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives; a founding board member for the Society of Nurse Scientists, Innovators, Entrepreneurs & Leaders; and is certified in executive nursing practice. She currently serves as a clinical assistant professor for the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC)-El Paso; founder and chief catalyst for Innovation Advantage; and lecturer in the Baylor University Louise Herrington School of Nursing. Clipper earned her Doctor of Nursing Practice degree from the TTUHSC School of Nursing.

Jim Messemer


Messemer is a Texas Tech alumnus who played on the men's soccer team from 1977-1980 and the baseball team in 1977 and 1978. In 1980, the Detroit Express selected Messemer in the second round of the North American Soccer League draft. He subsequently played for the Washington Diplomats and the Denver Avalanche before spending one year as a placekicker for the New York Jets. After his athletic career, Messemer served in management positions at C. R. Bard, a multi-national developer, manufacturer and marketer of medical technologies, and at SCIMED Life Systems, which engaged in the development, manufacture and marketing of medical devices to treat cardiovascular disease. He was recruited to the San Francisco Bay Area, where he built a successful career developing global sales organizations, attracting and mentoring top talent, preparing companies to "go public," leading and participating in initial public offering (IPO) road shows and investor meetings and leading companies through merger and acquisition transactions. He founded, funded and served as CEO and board member of early-stage information solutions and medical device companies backed by Silicon Valley luminaries.
He is now the CEO of NJTX LLC, a vehicle investing in public, private investments, private equity, hedge funds, venture capital, seed investments in startups, real estate and development.

Vince Pierce


Pierce is a senior executive with 30 years of progressive leadership, innovation and business transformation experience. He has successfully led strategy and transformation for three companies on two continents over the last 10 years as a member of the executive team applying Business Excellence – Lean, Design, Agile, Innovation and Behavioral Science – to drive digital transformation, customer experience and performance excellence across the end-to-end business value chain. He has helped teams to consistently set performance benchmarks in multiple industries and business functions, delivering more than $2 billion in value through revenue, margin and earnings growth. Pierce is currently CEO and managing director of Level 1, a business transformation challenger consulting firm helping visionary executives and their teams apply the principles and practices of innovation and performance excellence to realize compelling future visions, deliver transformational outcomes and achieve extraordinary business results.

Clipper, Messemer and Pierce join the previous board members:
• Esparza
Sanjeev Saxena, vice chairman – founder, chairman and CEO of POC Medical Systems, a medical device company; and Texas Tech alumnus in electrical engineering.
Phil Sizer, secretary – endowed professor in pain science and President's University Distinguished Professor at the TTUHSC; associate dean for research for the School of Health Professions; co-founding partner and CEO of TKQuant, an Innovation Hub at Research Park tenant; and Texas Tech alumnus in exercise science.
Curtis Griffith, treasurer – chairman and CEO of South Plains Financial Inc. and Texas Tech alumnus in agricultural economics and law.
Arun Agarwal – CEO of Nextt
Dr. Randy Hickle – CEO of Scott Laboratories Inc.
• Christy McClendon – Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of GRACO Real Estate Development Inc.

Ex-officio members are:
Billy Breedlove – vice chancellor of facilities planning & construction for the Texas Tech University System
Kimberly Gramm, Texas Tech's associate vice president for innovation and entrepreneurship
Dr. John Griswold – medical director of the Timothy J. Harnar Burn Center at the TTUHSC
Penny Harkey – CFO of the TTUHSC
Joseph A. Heppert – vice president for research & innovation at Texas Tech
Dan Pope – Lubbock mayor
Noel Sloan – CFO of Texas Tech