New director of the Duke Energy Center for Innovation

web Kathryn de Ridder-Vignone

Kathryn de Ridder-Vignone has been selected as the new director of the Duke Energy Center for Innovation (DECI), the technology business incubator which provides resources and guidance for technology-oriented startups in Hartsville at no cost.

This program, an effort of the Community Foundation for a Better Hartsville, serves as one of several Technology Village Program sites created around South Carolina by the Clemson Institute for Economic & Community Development. In 2014, the Center celebrated its first graduate business, FME Nuclear Solutions, LLC, a developer of software applications for industrial clients. The Center is currently working with seven start-up companies.

De Ridder-Vignone has previously served as an assistant professor at James Madison University in its Department of Integrated Science and Technology, as well as a post-doctoral researcher at Arizona State University. She is a graduate of Cornell University, where she received her Ph.D. in Science and Technology Studies, and also the South Carolina Honors College at the University of South Carolina.

“Kathryn is the right person at the right time as we enter a new phase in the development of our technology center here in the greater Hartsville area,” Community Foundation for a Better Hartsville Chairman Curtis Lee said. “Her education and experience in science, technology and entrepreneurism are a perfect fit as we expand our collaborative networking and programming support for our local entrepreneurs.”

De Ridder-Vignone said she looks forward to building on the work of former DECI Director Ben Chastain as well as DECI’s board members by serving the needs of innovators and entrepreneurs in Hartsville.

“Communities succeed in serving all of their citizens when environments like our center are deliberately created to be inclusive, fun, welcoming and sustainable,” she said. “With my background in emerging technologies and community engagement, I anticipate expanding our programming through events like Picturing Innovation, a walking tour where participants take photographs of their communities and document where they see the past, present, and future of innovation happening in Hartsville, or The Future of Us: Technology, Innovation, and You an informal gathering at a local café during which invited speakers share in an engaging and interactive way innovations in new technologies. These types of events foster and sustain the incubation of new ideas and possibilities emerging from our community. They also seek to create environments where ideas come to fruition by giving people the chance to engage with each other in stimulating and productive ways. I am excited about serving as a resource to support the future success of our innovators as well as our community’s entrepreneurial spirit.”


The Duke Energy Center for Innovation provides a free service to the community by providing support for new company formation, particularly in the area of emerging technologies. DECI links innovators to business development resources and seed financing, and provides support services through Clemson University’s Regional Entrepreneurship Center. DECI is partnered with organizations including Clemson University, the Community Foundation for a Better Hartsville, the Duke Energy Foundation, the Byerly Foundation, the S.C. Department of Commerce and the City of Hartsville.

Author: Jana Pye

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