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Boosting Commercialization in WV’s Chemicals and Materials Sector

June 3, 2013

chemical-alliance-zone

The Chemical Alliance Zone (CAZ) is working to “up the game” for entrepreneurs, researchers, start-ups, and small firms wanting to commercialize technology and products in the chemicals and materials sector in West Virginia.  Thanks to a grant from The Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation awarded to TechConnectWV, CAZ is providing funds for commercialization assistance now and is revamping its incubator at the West Virginia Regional Technology Park to lay a foundation for growth in the future.

CAZ Grants First Award from CAM Commercialization Fund

CAZ made the first award from the Chemicals and Materials (CAM) Commercialization Fund to PolyPlexx, LLC in the amount of $15,000 to help boost the commercialization efforts of the South Charleston-based company.  PolyPlexx, located at the WV Regional Technology Park, offers clear, impact-resistant polymers under the trade name ViziPlexx™.  The materials can be used for optical lenses, ballistic armor, and other safety and security applications.  Funds will be used to produce customer samples and develop technology for large-scale production.

The CAM Commercialization Fund offers assistance to support the commercialization of CAM technology and products in West Virginia.  Guy Peduto (INNOVA Commercialization Group), Michele O’Connor (West Virginia Jobs Investment Trust), Rudy Henley (Mountaineer Capital), and Ron Basini (West Virginia Angel Network) are serving as the advisory group to assist CAZ in the administration of the Fund.  The advisory group is currently discussing or considering proposals from several researchers, entrepreneurs, and start-ups from around the state.  If you are interested in applying or reading more about the fund, click here.

Incubator Plans Nearing Completion

The Chemical Alliance Zone is working with national economic development firm Fourth Economy Consulting and partners to revitalize its incubator in the West Virginia Regional Technology Park.  The new incubator will take advantage of both the facilities and expertise at the Tech Park to create what might be the only incubator in the nation dedicated to commercializing chemistry-based technologies.

The incubator will provide business support services, technical assistance, and physical lab and pilot plant facilities to help companies and entrepreneurs bring new products and technologies to market.  Comprehensive support services will be provided by INNOVA and the WV Small Business Development Center.  Chemical industry experts at MATRIC (Mid-Atlantic Technology, Research & Innovation Center) will provide technical assistance and mentors.

Although plans have not been finalized, the draft strategy incorporates a FastTrack program within the incubator to first identify technologies or start-ups that are close to commercialization and then focus on a few key gaps with a team of experts to rapidly accelerate the commercialization of the technology.

The official launch of the new incubator will take place later this year, including the announcement of a new name and possibly new strategic partners.  Although CAZ will look both regionally and nationally for partners, several statewide groups are already on board, including WVU, MATRIC, WV Regional Technology Park, INNOVA, WV HEPC (Higher Education Policy Commission), Charleston Area Alliance, and TechConnectWV.

The launching of new products, technologies, and companies is essential for the state’s long-term economic growth.  The Chemical Alliance Zone and key partners are working to boost such commercialization efforts in the chemicals and materials sector across West Virginia.