A cool idea from our friends in Canada:
Last week, a combination business incubator & college residence at the University of Waterloo admitted its first group of 70 upper-year and graduate students to live in cohabitation at VeloCity, a home for young entrepreneurs interested in mobile communications and digital media.
UW spent $400,000 to convert the 40-year-old building into this modified space, which will include a wireless device lab, wi-fi, videoconferencing, hightened bandwidth, student presentation space, a LCD wall screen, and common areas to encourage collaboration. [picts here]
Any student who wants to live there must pass an interview process.
Applicants are asked questions about their technical and entrepreneurial abilities, and selected students are formed into project teams, each one partnered with an industry mentor to provide technical and business assistance.
And get this, towards the end of each term, the student groups will present their projects at a symposium populated by industry and investment capital representatives. According to the policies of the university, students would own the rights to any intellectual property they create.
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so might a project like this take off in Youngstown?
You have one of the most successful mobile communications and software development business incubators in the country in downtown youngstown.
You have a new $34.3 million Gold LEED-Certified business school with planned space for student entrepreneurs being built two blocks from this incubator.
You have a mayor, a university president, and other community and political leaders who have a desire to populate the downtown with more residents.
You have a handful of structures in between the YBI and the new Williamson Business School (the Erie Terminal Building and the Kress Building for example), that can be converted into a similarly-modeled residence for business students and entrepreneurs.
so, what do you think?
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On a side note, two press releases from the YBI went out this week.
First, some metrics:
In the last three fiscal years, the five ODOD-funded business incubators in Northeast Ohio (in youngstown, lorain, akron, cleveland, and mansfield) have created in aggregate 754 jobs, generated $304 million in revenue, attracted $81 million in investment capital, and sustained an annual employee payroll of $39 million.
Second, some construction:
The Youngstown Foundation has contributed $25,000 for YBI's "INSPIRE!" project. INSPIRE! is a new program of YBI that will offer flexible development suites within their main building, with access to resources for information technology start-ups in the very early stages of formation.
Let's also think regionally for a moment. . .
What is the combined impact of the state-funded business incubators when the Pittsburgh region is added to the mix?
What are some other mega-regional metrics in Cleveburgh which would be worth promoting?