Hatching a plan Featured

9:40am EDT July 22, 2002
With all the growth in dot-com companies, taking them from idea to reality has accelerated beyond a conventional business building model.

The proliferation of incubators — literally, gestation organizations that help a fledgling start-up with affordable space, technology, management, financing, lab equipment and other items the business otherwise couldn’t afford — has helped hatch thousands of dot-coms worldwide at speeds unheard of under conventional business models.

Locally, there are several incubators, with more popping up seemingly every day. Here are a few of the better-known ones and a few upstarts you’ll be hearing more from in the future:

Enterprise Development Inc.

Enterprise Development Inc. is the most well-known and well-developed incubator in Northeast Ohio. EDI is the parent organization that manages the Edison Technology Incubator (ETI), BioEnterprise and the Lewis Incubator for Technology (LIFT). The organization houses more than 30 fledgling companies in four locations and provides business assistance to tenants and clients, explains Diann Rucki, EDI president.

ETI is designed for new and emerging technology-based businesses. BioEnterprise provides laboratory and office space for early stage biomedical device, biotechnology and health-care related start-ups. LIFT is aimed at companies with the potential to incorporate technology and know-how developed by NASA’s Glen Research Center. Among EDI’s graduates are Athersys, Gliatech and Netgenics.

“There’s a lot of start-up activity in Northeast Ohio,” Rucki says. “EDI is designed to help nurture companies along by providing support they otherwise would not be able to get.”

Lorain County Community College

Hand it to Lorain County Community College president Roy Church for recognizing where to focus the future of education and acting upon it. LCCC broke ground in April on its new 2,000-square-foot incubator, which will house up to four start-up computer software, Web design and e-commerce companies.

The incubator will leverage LCCC’s educational facilities while complementing the college’s $6 million Engineering, Training and Development Center. It is slated to open in 2001 and is part of LCCC’s comprehensive plan to grow dot-com companies locally, as well as raise the region’s technological awareness by developing an education, business and technology partnership.

Hatchbox Inc.

Working from a collaboration of the legal, accounting, consulting and Web communities, the appropriately named incubator Hatchbox Inc. hung out its shingle in Fairlawn earlier this year. Hatchbox’s goal is to help fledgling e-commerce businesses develop into mature companies through a steady feeding of legal, accounting and marketing expertise.

Founded by Howard Cleveland, owner of Digital Day (formerly Mozes Cleveland & Co.), Hatchbox’s other partners are Arthur Andersen LLP and Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan and Aronoff LLP.

John Carroll University

Not one to be left behind in the progressive world of educational incubators, John Carroll University in March announced plans to join the fray with its own $60 million, 190,000-square-foot science center. Located within that massive building will be a 7,000- to 10,000-square-foot incubator designed as laboratory space for rent by local businesses as a way to lower overhead costs on basic research.

John Carroll management hopes to leverage educational research undertaken by its students and professors, and envisions the incubator as an opportunity to nurture some of those ideas into full-fledged start-up businesses.

How to reach: EDI, (216) 229-9445; LCCC, (800) 995-LCCC; Hatchbox, (330) 528-0029; John Carroll University, (216) 397-1886

Dustin Klein (dsklein@sbnnet.com) is editor of SBN.