The Innovation Center, Ohio University’s business incubator, has received two major awards of excellence from the International Business Innovation Association (InBIA).
At its annual conference in Minneapolis, the InBIA named the Innovation Center the 2019 Rural-Based Entrepreneurship Center of the Year and honored the center with the Randall M. Whaley Incubator of the Year Award. The latter award is InBIA’s highest honor and is sponsored by the Friends of University City Science Center of Philadelphia. The award recipient receives a cash prize.
With more than 2,200 members across 62 nations, InBIA is the leading professional association for entrepreneurial support organizations. Each year, it recognizes high impact entrepreneurship programs that exemplify excellence in sustainably growing companies that drive economic growth in communities around the world.
“The Innovation Center is a national example of how Ohio University works with the region to serve as a positive catalyst of economic change for Appalachia,” said Ohio University President M. Duane Nellis. “We are proud of our innovation ecosystem’s ability to support the growth of local companies and to develop successful partnerships and initiatives in our surrounding communities.”
The 2019 awards are the most recent major awards to the Innovation Center from InBIA in the last four years. The Innovation Center won InBIA’s Rural Incubator of the Year award in 2016. In the same time period, the Innovation Center has also been ranked by the leading international benchmarking institute, UBI Global, as the third-best university-based incubator in the United States.
“These awards are a tribute to Ohio University’s entire entrepreneurial ecosystem, which collaboratively and effectively leverages resources and provides outstanding assistance to entrepreneurs and emerging ventures,” said Stacy Strauss, director of the Innovation Center. “But the people deserving the real credit are the passionate and dedicated company team members who work tirelessly and with dogged determination to ensure their company grows and prospers.”
The Innovation Center offers customized business assistance, including capital access planning, human resource development and market analysis. Its 36,000-square-foot facility features seven biotechnology labs, 33 offices and an Additive Manufacturing Lab. 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 Services Provider Program to provide business expertise, services and investments for startup companies in Southeast Ohio.
In 2018 alone, the Innovation Center served 24 clients that employed 154 high-wage workers. The incubator also attracted hundreds of attendees to 35 events, including open houses for its Additive Manufacturing Lab, workshops for entrepreneurs, plus networking and learning opportunities for startup companies and innovators in Southeast Ohio.
In the last few years, the Innovation Center has expanded its impact through the creation of the LIGHTS Regional Innovation Network, which serves 28 rural counties in Southeast Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia. Established through a $2 million POWER grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission in October 2016, LIGHTS provides business assistance to incubators, makerspaces, startup companies and entrepreneurs in coal-impacted communities.
The Innovation Center is part of the Ohio University Research Division. More information about the Innovation Center can be found at www.innovateohio.com.