ScaleUp West Virginia Program Helping State Entrepreneurs, Businesses Grow
Since launching last fall, TechConnect’s ScaleUp West Virginia program has rolled out several initiatives designed to spur more innovation and entrepreneurial activity in our state. Those efforts are producing tangible results across West Virginia.
As of early September, the program has helped approximately 50 West Virginia firms and entrepreneurs in nine counties design new products, identify and execute strategies to become more efficient across their operations, create strategic plans to expand their markets, and other innovation-based needs. Those firms and entrepreneurs represent a variety of technologies, products and services.
ScaleUp West Virginia is made possible through support from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) and the State of West Virginia. The program targets 40 counties, including many that have been particularly affected by the loss of mining jobs, as well as jobs directly related to the mining industry.
Anne Barth, executive director of TechConnect West Virginia, said the program represents a unique opportunity to help diversify the economy in much of West Virginia.
“We’re extremely excited about how ScaleUp West Virginia is helping our state’s businesses and entrepreneurs,” Barth said. “The program is connecting innovation-minded companies and individuals with resources and expertise to help them move forward with their ideas for new products and processes and in finding new market opportunities.”
Barth said those resources and expertise are coming through the outstanding work of ScaleUp West Virginia’s five sub-awardees: The Chemical Alliance Zone, The Center for Applied Research and Technology, The INNOVA Commercialization Group, The Robert C. Byrd Institute for Advanced Flexible Manufacturing, and the West Virginia Manufacturing Extension Partnership at West Virginia University.
The program also is allowing TechConnect to support West Virginia companies, entrepreneurs and researchers pursue opportunities to research and commercialize their products through the federal government’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR), a competitive program that awards significant grant funding for commercialization. Support is available through TechConnect to help small businesses, entrepreneurs and researchers engage the outside expertise they need to identify which federal agency would be the best match for an SBIR application, and then to prepare the SBIR application itself.
Barth also noted that TechConnect’s upcoming Women & Technology Conference, scheduled for October 6-7 at Canaan Valley Resort, comes under ScaleUp West Virginia’s goal to help increase entrepreneurship within West Virginia’s women and minority communities.
“Innovation and entrepreneurship are a part of the fabric of our state,” Barth said. “Our goal through ScaleUp West Virginia is to help connect more West Virginians and their companies with the support they need to keep moving forward in a new, innovation-based economy.”