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Turning Innovation Into Enterprise

Current Programs

TechWrx West Virginia

With the goal of spurring entrepreneurship and creating jobs in West Virginia, the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) recently awarded $500,000 in grant funding to TechConnect West Virginia for its TechWrx West Virginia program. Support from the State of West Virginia provided $125,000 in matching funds.

TechWrx WV will address gaps in the entrepreneurial ecosystem by offering an expanded suite of programs that are designed to:

  • encourage more entrepreneurs to launch companies,
  • build a more robust entrepreneurial culture,
  • increase the state’s capacity and expertise to assist entrepreneurs, and
  • raise awareness of investment advantages in Opportunity Zones.

TechWrx WV builds on three game-changing predecessor programs funded by the US. EDA and led by TechConnect beginning in 2011: StartUp WV, ScaleUp WV and NextUp WV. Those initiatives enabled TechConnect to build greater capacity within the entrepreneurial ecosystem and develop a model for leveraging in-state technical assistance providers’ capacity to help entrepreneurs develop their products and business plans. Those programs also helped more entrepreneurs prepare to seek funding in the angel capital market.

In all, those programs served more than 200 entrepreneurs, early-stage and existing businesses, launched 51 new ventures, created 106 jobs, retained 170 jobs and attracted nearly $8 million in follow-on investment.

Assistance through TechWrx WV will be available to entrepreneurs in 40 of West Virginia’s 55 counties.

If you are interested in participating in the program, please complete the Intake Assessment Survey application located here.

For additional information, contact Anne Barth, TechConnectWV’s executive director, at anne@techconnectwv.org or  call (304) 444.2918.

 

 

 

 

Past Programs

With funding from the U.S. Economic Development Administration and the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, TechConnect West Virginia launched the NextUp West Virginia Program in October 2017 in partnership with the INNOVA Commercialization Group, the Chemical Alliance Zone, the Center for Applied Research & Technology and the Angel Capital Group.

As this final project report describes, our partners delivered on the goal to help more entrepreneurs launch companies, creating and retaining jobs in West Virginia.  The project offered entrepreneurs, early stage companies and newly reoriented firms access to high value technical assistance, sophisticated training to improve their ability to successfully pitch to angel investors and a strengthened and engaged regional investor network.

NextUp West Virginia also offered Entrepreneur Center Management certification to help facilities serving entrepreneurs learn best practices, develop an ongoing dialogue and network with peers.

Without the investment by the U.S. EDA and the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, these results would not have been possible.   To view the final report, click here: NextUp West Virginia Final Report

 

In partnership with three “centers of excellence” in the state, TechConnect is offering commercialization assistance to entrepreneurs, researchers and small businesses in West Virginia through its new “TechAssist West Virginia” program.

The project is intended to integrate, expand, and leverage regional assets to foster technology-based innovation and commercialization, support business expansion and small manufacturer growth, and encourage business formation in West Virginia.

TechAssist pairs start-up companies and entrepreneurs with three centers of excellence to help them move their idea forward. When launching a new venture, entrepreneurs often need sophisticated technical assistance, and this program allows us to make connections for them.

The program is made possible thanks to the Community Advancement & Development Program of the West Virginia Department of Commerce  Community Advancement & Development Program.

Partners include the Chemical Alliance Zone at the WV Regional Technology Park in South Charleston, the Center for Applied Research and Technology at Bluefield State College, and the INNOVA Commercialization Group at the High Technology Foundation in Fairmont.

The program will assist in the commercialization of technologies in several industry sectors, including chemicals, energy and advanced manufacturing.

Various forms of specialized technical assistance are available through TechAssist, including prototyping, systems engineering and integration, technology evaluation, IP evaluation, market evaluation, proof-of-concept studies, subject matter expertise, specialized facilities and more.

To learn more about the program, contact the partner organizations directly, or visit TechConnect’s website.  Questions may be directed to Anne Barth at anne@techconnectwv.org.

 ScaleUp WV logo

With funding from the U.S. Economic Development Administration and the State of West Virginia, TechConnect West Virginia launched the ScaleUp West Virginia Program in October 2015 in partnership with five centers of excellence, including the INNOVA Commercialization Group, the Chemical Alliance Zone, the Center for Applied Research & Technology, the Robert C. Byrd Institute for Advanced Flexible Manufacturing, and the West Virginia Manufacturing Extension Partnership.

As this final project report describes, the partners delivered remarkable results in ScaleUp West Virginia. Each leveraged their unique technical skills, experience and insights to help a wide range of entrepreneurs and established companies move their ideas, products and processes forward. The results were tangible in terms of young companies that were helped to launch, and jobs that were created or retained. The sub-awardees’ collective technical assistance also was instrumental in helping those entrepreneurs and companies secure critical follow-on funding to keep them moving forward.  In the final report, you’ll see that over the course of this two-year initiative, the following results were achieved:

Entrepreneurs and companies assisted:  122

New jobs created: 59

Jobs retained: 87

New companies helped to launch:  30

New products created:  35

New processes created:  15

Follow-on funding leveraged: $5,035,240

Without the investment by the U.S. EDA and the State of West Virginia, these results would not have been possible.   To view the final report, click here:  ScaleUp West Virginia Final Report

Launched in 2012 and concluded in 2014, the StartUp West Virginia Program was an integrated initiative designed to expand entrepreneurial and business startup efforts that helped to create new tech-based jobs in high growth industries in West Virginia.  The program received funding from the U.S. Economic Development Administration and the State of West Virginia.  TechConnect’s partners in the project represent the best of West Virginia’s “centers of excellence,” including the Robert C. Byrd Institute for Advanced Flexible Manufacturing, the INNOVA Commercialization Group and the Chemical Alliance Zone.

To read the final report on StartUp West Virginia, click here:  TCWV_FullReport

Mapping the Defense Industry Supply Chain in West Virginia

TechConnectWV was very proud to be part of a program that studied and mapped the defense industry in West Virginia.  The following summary and West Virginia Defense Industry Research Report (April 2018) outlines our work and findings.

In 2016, West Virginia University received a grant from the Department of Defense, Office of Economic Adjustment (under CFDA 12.617) to enhance its capacity to assist West Virginia communities, businesses, and workers that may be affected by reductions in Department of Defense (DoD) spending.

This grant allowed West Virginia University and its lead partner, TechConnect West Virginia, to study and map the defense supply chain in West Virginia. Further, the report suggested modifications, interventions, and supports to help companies that are defense-dependent become more resilient.

The overarching goals of the work associated with this proposal were:

  • Create the information and linkages with resources that will serve defense manufacturers and our communities in limiting the impact of defense-related spending cuts and identifying new opportunities for economic diversification.  The State expects this effort and its resulting deliverables to inform, strengthen, and support local adjustment and diversification initiatives.
  • Stimulate collaboration between regional, statewide, and local adjustment and diversification efforts in the wake of defense procurement reductions and economic development generally.

Update: Following the implementation of this initial project, West Virginia University and TechConnectWV had hoped to achieve the creation of a permanent, inclusive, and more diverse defense supply chain serving all state manufacturers who are interested in participating. We are pleased to report that on June 15, 2020 we held the founding meeting to establish the West Virginia Chapter of the NDIA in order to support, grow, and further develop the defense industry in the state.  Additional updates and information will be forthcoming as our work may begin in earnest one the pandemic recedes.

Innovation Transfer Consortium

Thanks to funding from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation and support from the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, TechConnectWV is spearheading an Innovation Transfer Consortium to serve the state’s smaller colleges and universities.  The program will potentially involve the state’s 18 smaller colleges and universities, both public and private. TCWV and the consortium will work to connect researchers at these institutions of higher education with private-sector partners to assist them in research collaborations and the commercialization of new products, services, and technologies.  The consortium will address intellectual property protection issues and tech transfer operations, while also enhancing the classroom experience for students.

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Innovation Adoption Program

In a regional collaboration, TechConnectWV partnered with Innovation Works (IW) of Pittsburgh to launch a pilot project of IW’s Innovation Adoption Program (IAP) in West Virginia.

The objective of the Innovation Adoption Program (IAP) was to help manufacturers located in West Virginia develop cutting-edge technologies that will accelerate their business development and growth, and enable them to gain a competitive advantage in local and global markets.

The IAP was a project-based initiative that provided a source of funding (up to $25,000, matched by the company’s own funds) necessary to address the technology and/or new product development needs of existing manufacturers by connecting them with the prototyping, design, testing, and analytical capabilities of the State’s higher education institutions and non-profit Centers of Excellence. The desired outcome of this initiative was to make manufacturers in West Virginia more technologically innovative, productive, and profitable through the creative use of the State’s non-profit and university technology commercialization resources.

Further information about the IAP can be found by clicking the following links: