Research Communications

Innovation Center wins prestigious Athens Area Chamber of Commerce award 

Ohio University Innovation Center
The Innovation Center is Ohio University's technology business incubator.

Jan. 30, 2015


The Athens Area Chamber of Commerce has honored the Ohio University Innovation Center with the 2014 Holzaepfel Award, the top economic development award in the region.

The chamber recognized the Innovation Center, the university's technology business incubator, for its creation of high-paying jobs and new businesses that have taken root in Athens County. Director Jennifer Simon accepted the award during the chamber's annual awards dinner Thursday evening at the Ohio University Inn and Conference Center.

"While the chamber has always enjoyed a healthy and collaborative town-gown relationship with Ohio University, we felt that in 2014 they were especially deserving of this award. The Innovation Center soared to new heights by procuring the prestigious 3D printer and enticing technology-savvy business entrepreneurs by providing impressive additional resources and services to assist these startups," said Wendy Jakmas, president of the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce.

The Innovation Center has helped entrepreneurs turn promising ideas into flourishing businesses since 1983. It offers business planning and coaching services, networking opportunities and access to venture capital. Client companies can use the center's state-of-the-art spaces and equipment, such as a 3D printer and biotechnology instruments.

In 2014, the center's 16 tenant clients reported total revenue of $8.4 million during the third quarter, a 230 percent year-over-year increase. The clients attracted an additional $1.25 million in angel or venture investment and loans. Innovation Center companies added an average of 5.5 new jobs, for a total of 84 jobs. 

One of the Innovation Center's largest 2014 success stories is Ecolibrium Solar, a design and manufacturing company for solar racking rooftop solutions. The company graduated in January 2015 and moved into a new facility in Athens. In 2014, Ecolibrium reported more than $19 million in total sales revenue as a result of its accomplishments in product development and residential and commercial market penetration. The company's number of full-time employees grew from 13 to 27 within the year.  The company has taken advantage of a variety of Innovation Center services, including networking, executive leadership training, strategic planning, location services and executive recruitment assistance.

"The Innovation Center experienced a highly successful 2014 and made a strong impact on the region's economy. We are thrilled to cap off the year with the receipt of the prestigious Holzaepfel Award," Simon said.  "Throughout the years, the center has worked closely with the chamber, as well as our other community and entrepreneurial ecosystem partners, on big projects such as the retention of major companies, including Diagnostic Hybrids and Third Sun Solar, creating hundreds of jobs."

The chamber award is named after Mike Holzaepfel, a local business leader who worked tirelessly and passionately on economic development, making transformational positive economic impacts in the region.

"Ohio University greatly appreciates the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce for the many ways in which it supports economic development in Southeast Ohio, and we are deeply honored by this award," said Ohio University President Roderick J. McDavis. "The Holzaepfel Award will surely advance Ohio University's efforts to bolster entrepreneurship throughout the region. We look forward to building upon our community collaboration as the Innovation Center moves into its next stage of growth." 

More information about the Innovation Center is available at www.ohio.edu/innovation.