Jessica Hyland, executive director of the Iowa Biotechnology Association, or IowaBio, recently sat down with me to share about the association’s priorities and its new STEM committee and future leaders fund and what’s new in the biotech industry.

Below, she answers our innovationIOWA Leader Q&A.

What does innovation mean to you?
I would define innovation as game-changing. Basically something that shakes up a space and takes it forward, maybe improves it in a way that people didn’t expect.

What is one area of focus for your organization or industry in the next year?
For the next year, I would say STEM education. That’s something that our membership really cares about, and we’re revamping those efforts with a very active STEM committee. [It’s a] newer committee but super involved, and I would say that’s definitely going to continue to be a focus now that we’ve got our new Future Biotech Leaders Fund.

Share a past career or personal experience that influences how you perform your current role.
I would just say generally being from the advocacy world and that being kind of my strength and background. I definitely carry forward the skill set and the relationships that I gained from that, but then also the skill set that I need to adapt change quickly. That is something that I definitely carry forward from that along with the relationship-building, and I think I use all of those skills in this current role.