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Turning Innovation Into Enterprise

TCWV in the News

TechConnectWV lays out four projects to spur entrepreneurial, startup growth

by John Mark Shaver, Fairmont News Editor

The State Journal

March 7, 2021

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WV News) — TechConnect West Virginia has been steadily working through the COVID-19 pandemic to help fledgling entrepreneurs and startup businesses network and access funding, and the entity has several more programs ready to go in the coming weeks and months.

Although the pandemic has put an end to face-to-face events and programming, TechConnect WV Executive Director Anne Barth said that there is just as much — if not more — going on with the company as there was a year ago.

“Surprisingly, we’ve stayed busy with our programs, and interest remains high,” Barth said. “We moved so many things online and started doing things virtually, and perhaps it’s the nature of the type of entrepreneurs that we work with most commonly … but this time for being at home has been productive for those who are working on research-intensive projects.”

Barth said that even in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, continuing TechConnect’s work is still greatly important for those it serves, and she’s happy that these services can still be provided.

“We can connect the resources for entrepreneurs to make sure that they get the kind of high-value support they need to launch new ventures,” Barth said. “We can help fill that gap by connecting the dots between the various sources around the state. Maybe someone needs help with designs. Maybe someone needs help with technology validation. Maybe someone needs help with finding capital to help them get to the next step in the long process of launching a tech or research-driven enterprise.”

Barth said that TechConnect is currently engaged in four different projects, all of which are aimed at sparking entrepreneurial and startup growth, the first of which is 3Steps2StartUp initiative.

Part of this initiative will be a virtual venture fair set to be held Tuesday and Wednesday, which aims to provide tech and research-driven entrepreneurs tips on securing funding and speaking with investors.

“It’s intended to streamline the process to help entrepreneurs get their ideas to market,” Barth said. “Through this event, we will provide tech-focused, research-driven entrepreneurs with the opportunities to learn strategies for raising funds and how to make an effective pitch to investors.”

Those interested can sign up for the venture fair by visiting

The second project TechConnect is working on is BEST (Bridging he Ecosystem in Science and Technology) in West Virginia.

Through this initiative, TechConnect has {span}held 16 boot camps and trained 423 people at those events to date, as well as helped 181 people get other assistance in the form of proposal writing, solicitation matching or technical assistance.{/span}

“This is intended to encourage more small businesses in West Virginia to go after SBIR grants,” Barth said. “These are really important to the state, because the SBIR/STTR program is called America’s largest seed fund for a reason. It is a great source of early-stage, non-diluted funding. If you have a tech or research-based start-up, it could be worth your while to learn about the program, find out what federal agencies might be interested in the research you’re doing and try to find a match for one of the solicitations for these awards.”

Included in this is a March 16 proposal writing workshop and a series of four seminars in April that aim to educate entrepreneurs of intellectual property.

“If you’re developing some new technology that you need to protect the IP on, you want to make sure you’re doing it in a way that you’re protected from someone challenging it later,” Barth said.

TechConnect’s third ongoing project is the AIM Higher Consortium, a program that’s funded by the United States Department of Defense. The consortium aims to strengthen the defense supply chain in both West Virginia and southwestern Pennsylvania.

“Our small manufacturers and businesses that are interested in learning about the DoD supply chain or are perhaps considering entering that supply chain will have access to resources to help them do that,” Barth said. “The goal of the initiative is to tie in more robotics, machine learning and artificial intelligence with our manufacturers so they are better prepared to be in the 21{sup}st{/sup} century.”

TechConnect’s final major ongoing project — which is funded by the state of West Virginia and United States Economic Development Administration — is TechWorx West Virginia, which provides startups and entrepreneurs with tech support through partnerships with other entities such as INNOVA, CAZ and CART. Barth said that this is the fourth in a series of projects that have, to date, created 156 jobs and served 440 entrepreneurs.

With these four programs, Barth said that she and others at TechConnectWV have stayed quite busy.

“All of these programs have a slightly different focus area, but they’re all intended to diversify and grow West Virginia’s economic base by creating new companies and jobs and attracting investment capitals to those new companies,” Barth said.

Eventually in 2021, Barth hopes that the pandemic fades enough away that the nonprofit can pull back from online-heavy events and get back to in-person programming. Whatever the future holds though, she said that TechConnectWV will continue to provide tech-focused entrepreneurs with the materials they need.

“My hope is that, when we can safely gather in person again, we can kick some of these programs back up and make them face-to-face,” Barth said. “There’s nothing more important than that opportunity to network, especially among entrepreneurs and the folks who assist them. … I look forward to a safe return of in-person activities, and I think as we come out on the other side of this, it will be a chance to celebrate some great successes that germinated and took root during the pandemic.”

A full list of upcoming TechConnectWV programming can be found at