What an Entrepreneur Values

Jim Flowers, Director of VT KnowledgeWorks and President of the Board of the Virginia Business Incubation Association (VBIA), shared this report from a recent survey of VBIA members:

Some very interesting results will certainly help the Board plan for the future, and should prompt some interesting discussions as we all move forward.

  • The incubation service valued most by tenants is definitely NOT space.  It is personal counseling.  And second place goes to support groups.  The third place cluster includes space, administrative services, and networking assistance.
  • Pre- and post-launch counseling is provided by incubator staff  at 80% of the respondent installations.  Local SBDCs are used by 1/3 to ½ of the incubators.  Volunteer mentors are a distant third.
  • These two taken together would support the notion that incubation is all about the program, not the place. 
  • About half the respondents offer education, counseling, and some form of virtual membership to non-tenant companies.  Another vote for program over place.
  • Only slightly over half the respondents (53%) indicated that job count was a key performance indicator used by their funding sources.  Other important indicators appear to be wealth creation (35%) as indicated by mergers, company sales, etc., and the general reputation of the incubator (29%).
  • The search for prospective tenants is the biggest challenge for 44% of the respondents, followed by program funding and availability of capital tied at 28%.

Preliminary and rather  broad conclusions that seem to be indicated by our quick look and limited data would be that VBIA can assist its members most in three general areas:

  • Program enrichment – sharing the recipes for attractive services
  • Positive press – publicizing successes at every possible turn in support of both funding and prospecting activities
  • Business development tips and tools – another chance for recipe sharing

Jim Flowers also reported this VT KnowledgeWorks news to the VBIA:

The NewVA Corridor Technology Council recognizes regional excellence at its annual Tech Nite celebration each spring.  This year leaders of two incubated companies went home with very nice hardware.

TORC Technologies is this year’s “Rising Star” among tech companies in the Roanoke and New River valleys.  Founded in 2005, TORC Technologies is a leader in unmanned and autonomous systems with a mission to automate dull, dirty, and dangerous tasks through the commercialization of intelligent robotic technologies.  TORC’s product line rapidly and systematically enables autonomous systems through a suite of modular and interoperable “building blocks,” used in a variety of applications by industry, government, and academia.

Intrexon is the “Innovator” in the region this year.  Intrexon‘s technology involves the use of DNA as the natural control modality for the delivery, targeting, activation, regulation and location of biological therapeutics. Their R&D efforts are focused on implementing control systems that significantly improve the safety and efficacy of proven biologics, while enabling new classes of biotherapeutics that can combat the complexity of mutation-based diseases.

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