USC/Columbia Technology Incubator - Hi-Tech Business Development Success

Heads have been turning to watch the Columbia area. Yes, we have been attracting national attention in the entrepreneurial area, specifically in the high-tech sector. Inc magazine placed Columbia in the top 3 high-tech incubator programs in the U.S. affiliated with a university, focused on attracting and developing high-technology businesses.

This high-tech incubator program belongs to a Columbia organization, sponsored by the University of South Carolina, known as the USC/Columbia Technology Incubator. The Incubator is a non-profit corporation whose mission is to attract, encourage, mentor, support, and develop area start-up businesses. Through their affiliate program, their support also branches out into already-established companies as well.

The Technology Incubator, which began in 1998, has three basic goals: recruit, consult, and after an incubation period, graduate, with a well established business understanding critical for continued entrepreneurial success. The important goal is the incubation period, which is believed to be critical for success, since it provides:
  • strong chance of survival
  • networking opportunities
  • facilitates peer-to-peer collaboration
  • consulting accelerates company growth
  • affects economic development
Technology Incubator achievements include:

  • Enrolled 27 quality companies in the past 15 months
  • Recruited 5 start-ups into the new Affiliate Program
  • Graduated 4 companies (June 2013)
  • Featured in Inc. Magazine (June 2013)
  • Named one of the Top 3 university tied incubators to “watch”
  • 50 Active companies (45 resident 5 nonresident)
  • 150 Full and part time jobs within the facility
  • 1000 Hours annually in consulting services
  • 2012 Sales volume: approximately $17,287,000
  • Company grant funding: $522,500
  • 7 Companies exporting internationally
A new program that the Technology Incubator offers is the Affiliate program. It is an outreach program which allows existing companies to take advantage of business consulting services and resources without becoming tenants. Prospective companies considering the affiliate program should understand that:

  • this program provides start-ups a minimal risk entry point into entrepreneurship to see if business ownership is the right choice for them.
  • if you already have an office, you receive facility amenities without requiring leased space.
  • there is low overhead while providing developing companies with invaluable resources.
  • this is a way for established technology businesses to become a part of our entrepreneurial community.

A few of the successful companies that have been through the Technology Incubator program include:

  • Interactive Data Visualization. The company develops software products focused on 3-D applications used in in game development, visual simulation, engineering visualization and animation.
  • DPX Labs manufactures disposable pipette extraction products which enables fast and efficient chemical extraction processes, saving the customer time and money.
  • Advanced Automation Consulting provides IT consulting and staffing for various size companies. They attribute their success to adopting a long-term partnership arrangement, allowing them to thoroughly understand their client's needs.
It is obvious that the Technology Incubator has not only been instrumental in high-tech growth in the area, there is an employment multiplier effect; high tech jobs increase supporting jobs in other industries as well. 

Jim Gambrell, director of Columbia Economic Development said, "The Incubator has the potential to change the economic profile of Columbia; in fact, it already has."

Technology Incubator will continue to provide the Midlands area with a fertile ground environment for high-tech entrepreneurs. Columbia is considered one of the top areas of the country conducive for entrepreneurs and South Carolina ranks in the top 10 in the country in several favorable business categories. It's exciting to be a resident of a state that is experiencing such phenomenal business growth. We are truly on the high-tech cutting edge for business.

I'm Jim Scarbrough and regularly provide technology news and information that affects each of us directly and indirectly daily. You can view the Technology Incubator website at: http://www.usccolainc.org.

You can also view my other technology blog I write at: http://pcjournal.typepad.com/blog.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.


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