Economic Development

National Accelerator to Provide Programs at YBI

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – A nationally recognized business accelerator will bring two of its programs here next summer to assist Mahoning Valley companies.

Toward the close of the Northeast Ohio Additive Manufacturing Cluster meeting Wednesday, Barb Ewing, CEO of the Youngstown Business Incubator, announced Wisconsin-based Gener8tor, founded in 2012, would launch its gBETA and gALPHA programs in Youngstown.

“We couldn’t be more honored to be a part of this and that they have chosen us as their additive manufacturing partner,” Ewing said.

The mission of Gener8tor is “to help ecosystems invest in their best and their brightest in order to create more wealth and more jobs for those ecosystems,” said Abby Taubner, managing director of the gBETA program.

Bringing Gener8tor to Youngstown resulted from U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan’s efforts to attract venture capital investment from the East and West coasts, Ewing said. The local group began working with consultant and angel investor Scott Shane, who made the connection with Gener8tor.

The three-month Gener8tor program connects early-stage companies with mentors and investors in an effort to get them more customer traction in exchange for an equity position, Taubner said. The gBETA program is a shorter version, lasting just seven weeks, and is supported by sponsors so it can be offered to companies at no cost or equity stake taken.

“Through gBETA, we’ve helped 171 companies to date,” Taubner said, and those companies have raised more than $22 million in 50 seed rounds. “We’re super-excited to be bringing that program here to Youngstown to be specifically focused on additive manufacturing.”

The gALPHA program is a “pre-gBETA program,” in which “would-be founders” – individuals who aren’t sure yet if they want to launch a company – go through a four-week venture creation workshop, she said. These individuals could be industry experts, students studying a specific niche or technologists who are connected with people in their industry to “reverse-pitch ideas that they can innovate around,” she continued.

“We believe that it will really help to grow our existing additive manufacturing companies faster, get them to market, put them in positions where they have access to different technology and investors than we have, and it will help us create new companies,” Ewing said.

The next step is to hire a full-time director to run the local programs and recruit participants, Taubner said. The gBETA cohort will consist of five to seven companies, and gALPHA will work with four to 10 companies at a time. The programs will focus on additive manufacturing, she said.

During the meeting, Mike Hripko, Youngstown State Universitys’s vice president for external affairs, government relations and economic development, provided an update on the Mahoning Valley Innovation and Commercialization Center, which will use the former misdemeanant jail downtown.

Partners on the project will go through a page turn with project architects Dec. 20 in advance of an expected construction start early next spring or summer, he said. Construction of the 57,000-square-foot center, which will more than double the size of the current building, is expected to take 11 months.

Also during the meeting, Cynthia Bridge Rogers, video and social media manager for Triad Production Group and Youngstown ambassador for Women in 3D Printing, announced the national organization is launching its first Midwest chapter in Youngstown. Its goal is to bring together women already involved in the technology and to encourage more to enter the field.

The group is meeting next Dec. 13, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., at the Whistle & Keg downtown.

Pictured: Abby Taubner, managing director of the gBETA program from the Wisconsin-based Gener8tor, and Barb Ewing, CEO of the Youngstown Business Incubator, announced new accelerator programs for 2019 that are geared to help early-stage companies get more traction with customers.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.