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Inc. cites Columbia facility as ‘incubator to watch’

Staff Report
Published May 29, 2013

The USC/Columbia Technology Incubator has been noticed by Inc. magazine, listed under the headline: 3 College-Town Incubators to Watch.

Located in a former city office building on Laurel Street in Columbia, the incubator is a creature of the city of Columbia, the University of South Carolina, and a board headed by Columbia developer and entrepreneur Don Tomlin.

The other two incubators cited by Inc. are: EnterpriseWorks, in Champaign, Ill., home of the University of Illinois; and Furnace Technology Transfer Accelerator, located in Scottsdale, Ariz.; home of Arizona State University's Skysong Center.

USC/Columbia Technology Incubator’s 40,000-square-foot facility houses 45 young companies in fields such as software and pharmaceuticals, Inc. said.

“Entrepreneurs can get mentorship on topics such as grant writing and Web design, join lunchtime discussions with fellow entrepreneurs, and compete for seed funding in pitch contests,” the publication wrote.

Inc. noted success stories in Columbia, including the 31 companies that have graduated from the incubator and have created more than 775 jobs.

Direct Measurements, for example, which makes sensors to measure the stress on bridges and wind turbines, was recently named lead subcontractor on a $4.4 billion bridge-monitoring project in Washington state.

The cost of office space ranges from $150 a month to $1,000 a month at the Columbia facility.

To apply, a startup has to be tech-oriented, and must submit a business plan and an application for review.

“It shouldn't be surprising that 32% of all business incubators in North America have ties to a university,” Inc. said. “College towns offer an abundance of resources — including a cheap, well-educated workforce and a pipeline of ideas from campus classrooms. High-profile incubators such as Stanford's StartX and the Austin Technology Incubator at the University of Texas aren't the only hives of innovation buzzing within academia.”

William Kirkland, executive director and entrepreneur-in-residence at the USC/Columbia Technology Incubator, was recently given the added responsibility by USC President Harris Pastides to head the university’s new Office of Economic Engagement. In this role, Kirkland will coordinate the university’s economic development activities and collaboration with private sector companies.

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