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Innovation Center and graduate Ecolibrium Solar receive top international business awards

From staff reports | Apr 1, 2016
The Innovation Center, Ohio University's high-tech business incubator.
The Innovation Center, Ohio University's high-tech business incubator. Ben Siegel/Ohio University.

ATHENS, Ohio (April 1, 2016)—The Innovation Center, Ohio University’s high-tech business incubator, and the Athens-based Ecolibrium Solar, one of its graduates and a TechGROWTH Ohio portfolio company, each have been recognized by the International Business Innovation Association (InBIA) for excellence in business incubation and incubator graduate success, respectively.

The Innovation Center has been named Rural Incubator of the Year in the 2016 InBIA Awards. It was one of eight entities across the globe to be honored for its contributions to the business incubation field.

“This recognition highlights the high impact that the Innovation Center brings to Ohio University’s venture ecosystem,” said Jennifer Simon, director of the Innovation Center. “With it comes more attention to its benefits for high-technology startups and buy-in from funding agencies. We work every day to identify value for our clients and we want others to know about it.”

The Innovation Center offers customized business assistance, including capital access planning, human resource development and market analysis. Its 36,000 square-foot facility features a biotechnology lab, 33 offices and six wet labs. The business incubator works closely with university and regional partners, including TechGROWTH Ohio, a program funded by Ohio University and the state’s Ohio Third Frontier Entrepreneurial Signature Program to provide business expertise, services and investments for startup companies in southeastern Ohio.

In 2015, Innovation Center clients and recent graduates added 121 new jobs with an annual average salary that was double the average regional income.

Recent accomplishments also include an effort with the Muskingum County Business Incubator through its TechGROWTH Ohio partnership to build a regional mentoring and recruitment initiative. The program is designed to identify, coordinate, train and monitor volunteer executives, drawing upon local talent and a proactive recruitment of managerial talent from outside the region.

Over the last year, the Innovation Center also attracted more than 200 attendees to nine events, including its Founders’ Forum, which unites CEOs and founders of current clients and recent graduates to discuss topics of interest and exchange information.

In addition to receiving the Rural Incubator of the Year award, the Innovation Center nominated one of its recent graduate companies for the 2016 InBIA Awards.

Ecolibrium Solar was named Outstanding Incubator Graduate: Hard Science. The Athens-based company designs cost-effective, ecologically sound products for the solar energy industry. Ecolibrium Solar, which graduated from the Innovation Center in 2015, also is a successful portfolio company of TechGROWTH Ohio. It was one of six incubator clients or graduates recognized by InBIA for its growth and performance in the marketplace. 

The company’s Athens headquarters oversees operations, supply chain, quality and inside sales departments. The Ecolibrium Solar R&D Lab in Boulder, Colo., serves as the company’s center for product development, testing and validation.

“This award is important as it shows how a company can work extremely hard and take full advantage of Ohio University’s venture development ecosystem, including the Innovation Center and TechGROWTH Ohio, to drive its success,” Simon said. “As a graduate company, Ecolibrium thrives in Athens by creating high-wage jobs and new business opportunities.”

The Innovation Center now is eligible for one of two Dinah Adkins Incubator of the Year Awards; the finalists will compete for the Randall M. Whaley Incubator of the Year award. The winners will be announced during InBIA’s Member Recognition and Awards Dinner April 18 at the Kennedy Space Center.

The InBIA is a nonprofit organization and advocate for advancing global entrepreneurship and incubation that has more than 2,100 members across 60-plus countries.

More information about the Innovation Center can be found at www.ohio.edu/innovation.

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Contacts: Jennifer Simon, (740) 593-1803, simonj@ohio.edu ; Stacy Strauss, (740) 593-9346; strauss@ohio.edu ; Andrea Gibson, (740) 597-2166, gibsona@ohio.edu.