Written by Robert Leitch.
When it was founded in 1983, the Ohio University Innovation Center (IC) was the first university-based incubator in the state, and one of only a dozen in the country. Since then, the IC has worked to foster business growth both within Ohio University and in the broader community of southeast Ohio. The incubator currently houses 16 companies with focuses ranging from bioscience to digital media to advanced energy.
“We really work to leverage the assets of Ohio University,” said Lauren McCullough, client services coordinator at the IC. “This takes multiple forms, including working across campus with students, faculty and administrators for research and applied learning experiences.”
According to McCullough, the university and greater Athens community play key parts in the IC’s success in the region.
“Athens truly has the support system that allows young businesses to flourish,” said McCullough. “Our community may be small, but we embrace innovation and continually leverage talent across our networks.”
IC member companies benefit from having a dedicated staff member like McCullough who focuses solely on their needs and development. In addition to managing employee recruitment, she is able to provide various levels of business development assistance, and helps each company locate and leverage the appropriate resources needed to grow.
“For someone who has never been in business before, this would be an excellent place for them to be,” said Diane McVey, co-owner of LiveWires, a startup that makes earphones. “The rent is affordable, the facility is great, and the staff is friendly and readily available. Most importantly, it provides an opportunity to learn every day.”
The IC is closely aligned with TechGROWTH Ohio, a southeast regional partner of Ohio Third Frontier. This alignment increases clients’ abilities to access various levels of capital, and ensures they all receive the highest quality assistance throughout incubation and beyond.
“I love the Innovation Center. It was a great source of expertise, support and resources that helped make our company a reality,” said Brandon Logan, CEO and partner at CreMedia, a multimedia company that creates branding, video productions and websites for businesses.
The IC offers regular engagement with their clients, meeting with each company at least once a quarter to monitor progress. In collaboration with community and regional partners, the incubator also offers monthly educational and professional development opportunities. Past workshops have covered sales concepts, executive recruiting, intellectual property, marketing and becoming profitable.
“Our relationship with the IC has met and exceeded our expectations,” said Brandon Saunders, partner and engineer at BCS Engineering, which builds websites and offers online shopping cart options for businesses. “The value we’ve gained from the client services has been critical in the growth and success of our business.”