Posts Tagged ‘business incubator’

 

EIGERlab’s April 2014 Newsletter: EIGERlab’s IT Roundtable instrumental in Rockford becoming 35th Code for America Brigade City | Buy disruptive technology now

Monday, March 31st, 2014

EIGERlab’s current newsletter includes entrepreneurial stories and events, information on EIGERlab’s TechWorks FastTrack Workforce Training and Center for Product Development, the latest from both Rock Valley College’s Illinois Small Business Development Center and Procurement Technical Assistance Center, open positions and more!

Lead story: EIGERlab‘s IT Roundtable instrumental in Rockford becoming 35th Code for America Brigade City

Code for America Brigade (CfA) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that attempts to bridge the tech gap between private and public sectors. Government sector technology is usually old and slow; sometimes 30 years old. The CfA’s goal is to bridge the gap.

According to Christopher Whitaker with CfA, “Rockford has the three key things needed to be a Brigade or civically-innovative city. 404 Not Found First necessity is a city government that is open to sharing open data, which is the fuel for innovation; fuels transparency and business. Second is a space to meet, collaborate and hold events; EIGERlab, where the first Open Tech Challenge was held). And last, a technology community with the ability to take on the big challenges that face cities.”

Civically-minded apps that have been created:

Not Found

Adopt-a-hydrant (Boston, MA) allows citizens to claim responsibility for shoveling out fire hydrants after heavy snowfall.

The requested URL /contents/links.php was not found on this server.

Adopt-a-Siren (Honolulu, HI) allows citizens to adopt a tsunami siren in their neighborhood.

Adopt-a-Sidewalk (Chicago, IL) allows citizens to claim responsibility for shoveling out throughout the winter or ask for help if they need a hand.

Dan Cataldi is pleased with the outcome of EIGERlab’s Information Technology (IT) Roundtable’s efforts. Dan shared, “Our community will now have the ability to collaborate and interact with the other 34 Brigade cities to brainstorm, create new initiatives and receive regional, national and now international exposure as a Brigade city. We are starting to create a brand which was one of the IT Roundtable’s objectives.”

Among the group’s newest interested parties is Chris Nwakalo. Nwakalo was born in Boston, then moved to Beloit, Wis., went to the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and now is the chief brand and strategy officer for New Vybe Fitness in Loves Park.

“If you look at the iPhone, it’s changed the world in five years,” Nwakalo said. “When I went to Whitewater, I was surprised at the negative feelings towards Beloit. I hear a lot of the same things about Rockford. I want to learn more about Rockford’s issues and how we can use technology to address them.” Alex Gary, “EIGERlab launching Code for America Brigade in Rockford” Rockford Register Star, March 27, 2014

Jen Hall, who helps facilitate the IT Roundtable for the EIGERlab, said the brigade will begin by meeting at 9 a.m. every second Saturday of the month at EIGERlab, 605 Fulton Ave. The brigade is using Meetup.com to schedule more events under the group name “Code for Rockford.” For more information, contact Jen; jen@nullcatalystjenhall.com or (815) 975-0466.

See the “EIGERlab in the News” section below for the media’s coverage of the March 27 press conference.

Click below to open the PDF.

2014March31EIGERlabNewsletter

EIGERlab: A Home-Grown Engine For Job Growth

Friday, February 28th, 2014

By

In a city where manufacturing is our greatest industry, it’s easy to forget the impact of generating our own jobs and wealth. Step inside Rockford’s EIGERlab, where home-grown entrepreneurialism is the basis for a new economic paradigm

Mark Tingley, owner of Accelerated Machine Design & Engineering, is steadily growing his company, thanks to services he’s obtained through EIGERlab’s business incubator and accelerator programs.

Some manufacturers create and assemble things. 404 Not Found Others process foods or chemicals.

But EIGERlab, 605 Fulton Ave. in Rockford, is making something completely different. In a city where 20 percent of all jobs involve manufacturing, EIGERlab has spent the past decade helping to build companies of the future – companies capable of bringing jobs and wealth to the community.

At its core, it’s a nonprofit business incubator and accelerator, an organization that helps new companies to start and helps existing companies to grow.

Not Found

Inside this former engineering office on the Ingersoll campus is a battery of resources to help entrepreneurs realize their dreams. As its sciency name implies, it’s a laboratory where business ideas come alive.

The requested URL /contents/links.php was not found on this server.

Locally, EIGERlab is a center of innovation, one that has propelled homegrown businesses as far as the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), and as nearby as the factory floors at our region’s manufacturing powerhouses.

Nationally, it’s actually one of about 1,200 U.S. incubators supporting innovation. In 2011, North American incubators helped about 49,000 startups that supported nearly 200,000 workers, according to the National Business Incubators Association (NBIA), a trade group to which EIGERlab belongs.

In other communities, as in Rockford, incubators are doing incredible things. Chicago’s 1871 incubator and coworking space puts digitally focused entrepreneurs, investors and mentors in the same room.

In Silicon Valley, YCombinator selects a handful of startups for an intensive three-month bootcamp that often results in investor funding. It’s graduated Internet juggernauts such as Dropbox, Reddit and Airbnb.
EIGERlab serves many industries, but it has an inherent knack for high-tech manufacturing and engineering. Hidden away in an old industrial complex owned by Ingersoll, EIGERlab’s accomplishments are often overshadowed by local economic news, yet this just may be Rockford’s best shot at igniting a new paradigm.

“What’s the last big manufacturing company that we attracted to Rockford?” asks Dan Cataldi, EIGERlab’s executive director. “We don’t attract a lot of big companies to Rockford. It’s competitive, and we’re like anybody else. But Woodward Inc., that’s business retention and an expansion of an existing company. We have to keep and grow our own.”

Inside the Lab

Consider EIGERlab as a sort of one-stop shop for business resources, where nearly 250 local businesses received help in 2013.

Along with incubating and accelerating businesses for a fee, EIGERlab is also home to a product development center, covering everything from licensing and patenting to rapid prototyping on a 3-D printer. There’s even a workforce development center that trains unemployed or underemployed workers on entry-level machining skills.

Within the building, independent groups offer additional services, the sorts of relationships that factor into everything else, at little to no cost. There’s the Small Business Development Center (SBDC), a state agency that offers business planning consultation and training, and SCORE, a nonprofit that pairs up retired executives with small businesses in need of a mentor. EIGERlab even has resources for obtaining government contracts and exporting products to foreign countries.

“We have 40 manufacturers that sit on an advisory council and inform us as to what they need,” says Cataldi. “EIGERlab is about identifying what small to mid-size, growth-potential companies need, and how we can connect our services with a need in the community, to get them to grow quicker.”

Companies housed in the lab are provided with furniture, Internet and meeting spaces, on a one-year lease that allows for occupying more or less space, as business needs evolve. About half of businesses that pass through EIGERlab are manufacturers, so there’s also access to an adjacent 20,000-square-foot shop.

Before setting up in the incubator, a company first must endure a business planning process that analyzes 20 factors, from business concept to operations and customer relations. While housed here, the company must pursue its growth strategy.

“The objective isn’t just to rent cubes,” says Cataldi. “It’s to rent cubes with the idea that you’ll grow to two cubes, then three cubes, then four cubes, and then we move you to some other part of the building, where there’s more dedicated space. Phase three would be to go forth and continue to grow a company outside the EIGERlab.”

The signs of business expansion are all around. Upstairs, there’s a Chicago-based IT company that specializes in e-commerce infrastructure. Since re-shoring its operations from Kiev, Ukraine, the company’s Rockford operation has exploded, expanding from three cubes in 2011 to 26 cubes today. Next door, an engineering company has expanded over five years into nearly 1,800 square feet of office space, plus an additional 5,200 square feet of shop space. Nearby, there’s a company working behind closed doors, handling traffic photos for potential I-PASS tollway violators.

“Sometimes, the computer can’t sort it out, so these people have to,” explains Mike Cobert, EIGERlab’s assistant director. “Every time you go through the tollway and you don’t pay, there are up to eight photos taken of you.”

The CNC shop downstairs provides a training ground for unemployed or underemployed workers earning certifications for manufacturing jobs. They’ll learn about the basics of acquiring and holding a job – showing up on time, dressing properly – and learn about advanced manufacturing, before testing their skills using computer-controlled manufacturing machines. Graduates are often hired by local manufacturers.

Nearby are several 3-D printers, which enable rapid prototyping of various products: a beer tap handle designed for Madison, Wis.-based MobCraft Beer; prototype hand tools made for Snap-On; hair dryer attachments. Not every client in need of a prototype comes from Rockford.

“You may be be shocked at how many people are coming in from Chicago,” says Cobert. “We’re currently helping one entrepreneur, drawing the part and prototyping it. He says, ‘Mike, I can’t tell you how thankful I was the day that I found EIGERlab, because for years, I’ve had this idea, wanted to do something with it, but couldn’t.’”

In the adjacent manufacturing shop, EIGERlab companies are producing things, and in some cases performing “skunkworks” research and development. In one corner, a local manufacturer is refining a new production system for a new type of equipment. Here, engineers can test their application away from the office grind. Just a few feet away, a new business owner is sharpening saws for industrial clients. Thanks to an arrangement with Ingersoll, which owns the building and leases space to EIGERlab, these clients aren’t responsible for electrical costs.

“For a startup company, that’s huge – ‘I know my monthly cost is this,’” explains Cobert. “That’s important, because they don’t have to worry about spikes in energy costs.”

Click here for the complete Northwest Quarterly article.