YBI Fosters Relationships to Secure Capital

By Barb Ewing, CEO, Youngstown Business Incubator
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Coming off a strong 2017, the Youngstown Business Incubator rolled into 2018 full steam ahead. On our tech side, we worked with many companies in 2018 – 188 companies over 2,994 counseling hours to be exact.

We saw a number of interesting ideas this past year.

For instance,  Augment Therapy developed software that allows pediatric physical therapists to collect and analyze patient data while the patient is immersed in customized augmented-reality based exercises. And Engineered Products Inc. developed a system that uses radio waves to read and capture information stored on a tag attached to an object. The tag withstands harsh environments and conditions such as extreme temperatures and chemical interactions, making it a specialized solution for industrial, health-care and hazardous applications.

Early in the year, YBI became the host to the Minority Business Assistance Center for the Youngstown region. This region covers Ashtabula, Trumbull, Mahoning, Columbiana, Jefferson, Belmont and Monroe counties.

Our MBAC team worked with more than 240 clients representing 250 businesses. Staff supported the application and award of four minority business enterprise certifications and six certifications for state contracts. It helped foster relationships leading to $600,000 in loans, $2.4 million in contracts awarded and 32 jobs created. And McKinley Construction secured a $1.6 million construction contract by working with our team to secure capital.

YBI also achieved significant traction in additive manufacturing, or 3D printing. Although it’s only been open for a year, our newest building, TBB5, is home to five companies and four high-end metal, ceramic and polymer printers. In fact, YBI is the home to the only XJet Ceramic Carmel 1400 for ceramics in North America.

Our team completed Phase 1 of the Maturation of Additive Manufacturing for Low-cost Sustainment Project, working with the Department of Defense to support the use of additive manufacturing by the military. YBI was awarded $900,000 to begin Phase 3 to compare the cost of additive manufacturing against traditional manufacturing methods.

Additionally, our team was part of a $371,000 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission to purchase of software and post-processing equipment to drive innovation and research into the local economy. And our team secured contracts with Space Works and Goodyear to help demonstrate the cost and other benefits of additive manufacturing.

Securing investment dollars in the Midwest, especially for tech startups, is consistently a challenge. To address this need, YBI worked with local agencies to create Valley Growth Ventures, a $6 million investment fund. To date, VGV has invested in four technology based businesses and is looking to continue to grow its portfolio in 2019.

Our final highlights are new opportunities.

We helped launch the OH-IoT initiative, in partnership Youngstown State University and Cisco, which is intended to drive interest in the Internet of Things and foster applications of the technology.

We continued our international attraction program, bringing French company Nanoe to the United States, which hired a full-time business development director working to gain traction for its ceramic printer. And we announced our partnership with Gener8tor, an accelerator program from the Minneapolis area that will bring two of its programs to Youngstown this summer that will focus on additive manufacturing technologies and startups.

 

Copyright 2021 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.