Ecosystem Page 2

Posted: September 3, 2011 by Bill Cunningham in Innovation, People, Planning, Startup, Technology

Last week’s column discussed four of the nine puzzle pieces that make up the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem Universities, government, venture capital and angel investors represent a lot of activity. CincyTech touches all of the pieces and more. As an Entrepreneurial Signature Program of the Ohio Third Frontier, CincyTech invests in high-tech startup companies in the seven counties of Southwest Ohio. CincyTech so far has funded 27 startups and provided 33 grants to entrepreneurs, in partnership with angel, venture capital and private investors.  I’ll cover more of the Third Frontier benefits in a future column as it deserves more than a paragraph.

Defining incubation as “Maintaining (eggs, organisms, or living tissue) at optimal environmental conditions for growth and development” makes our region most excellent. Starting with the Hamilton County Business Center (founded in 1983), HCBC has graduated over 110 companies and the SBA loan arm has funded over 1,000 businesses. Across the river, the Northern Kentucky e-Zone has recruited and mentored more than 100 businesses since starting in 2001 and enabled them to raise over $53 million. BioStart – a life science incubator that is currently moving from a landlord model to a service model – offers startup help to the healthcare and science community. The Brandery, now affiliated with TechStars, commenced operations with its second class of 9 new high growth, high-tech companies in new digs at 1425 Vine Street in Over-The-Rhine.

Jack Cassidy, CEO of Cincinnati Bell, believes that “Conversation crystallizes genius.” So where entrepreneurs gather and connect, magic happens. The region has great events like Cincinnati Innovates celebrating the new ideas of our local entrepreneurs. Ignite Cincinnati brings together high energy, high intensity people to listen, speak and create some of the genius mentioned by Mr. Cassidy. TEDx Cincinnati offered the thousand plus people in attendance a glimpse into the future. The Greater Cincinnati Venture Association holds monthly events with entrepreneurial topics and two startup company pitches. CincyTech and the Brandery are hosting a Hack-a-Thon to attract programming talent to the region. Ernst & Young hosts the very big Entrepreneur of the Year celebration in June. NKU and UC produce the region’s premiere business plan competitions for undergraduates and MBA students.

Grassroots Initiatives
The Continuous Web’s meets monthly with early stage web designers, programmers and marketers. Likewise, Jim Cunningham, Executive Director of the Circuit, hosts a multitude of events through several different formats: The Cincinnati Business and Entrepreneur Meetup, Breakfast Bytes and the Regional Entrepreneur Forum. IT Martini brings IT techies together for adult beverages and conversation. LilyPad offers free WiFi at various locations throughout the city.

The GCVA mission connects entrepreneurs and resources with their monthly meetings. The Circuit maintains a healthy population of IT professionals in the region. The Association for Corporate Growth, while attracting a more advanced stage of company, is a great network of service providers to business. The Northern Kentucky Chamber, African-American Chamber, Hispanic Chamber and the Greater Cincinnati Regional Chamber all offer network opportunities to connect businesses.

Support Groups
Need an SBA 504 loan? Call the Hamilton County Business Center. Need to learn how to write a business plan for your art gallery? Call Artworks’ Springboard program. Need help in launching your business? Apply to Xavier University’s X-Labs program. There are far too many groups to mention in this column, but rest assured there is probably a support system to answer your question in our entrepreneurially rich region – we just need to connect the dots. The a pdf document of these dots reside on our blog at!

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