North Carolina's Eastern Region Offers Resources, Support for Tech Start-Ups
Mary Hackney is the director of East Carolina University’s Office of Technology Transfer Entrepreneurial Initiative, which helps fledgling companies spun out of ECU get started and contribute to the region's business climate.
A number of small, technology-driven start-up companies have been establishing themselves in North Carolina’s Eastern Region, and plenty of local resources are in place to help these companies grow.
Incubators such as the Technology Enterprise Center of Eastern Carolina (TEC) and the Kinston Enterprise Center are specifically designed to help entrepreneurs transform their business ideas into viable, lasting enterprises.
Kinston's facility can accommodate 20 start-up businesses, providing them with access to offices equipped with telephone service, high-speed Internet, intranet service, audio/visual equipment, conference rooms and a training laboratory equipped for distance learning instruction. In Greenville, the TEC offers more than 22,000 square feet of office space, and wet and dry lab as well as light manufacturing space, which is available for short-term lease to new tech-based start-ups.
One prospering incubator tenant in the region is CTMG Inc., a GMP-like clinical trials management company that uses quality-based systems in doctors' offices to oversee the in-human testing of new drugs and medical devices. Another start-up incubator tenant is Chirazyme Labs, a bioscience company that manufactures enzymes used to make natural epoxidation products for the agricultural, veterinary, environmental and chemical industries.
ECU's Entrepreneurial Initative
Other key regional players that help start-up companies get grounded are East Carolina University’s Office of Technology Transfer and its Entrepreneurial Initiative, which helps fledgling companies spun out of ECU get started. One of its recent success stories is GuardTracker, a software package company developed by Sgt. Clinton Williams and his partners Dr. Gary Leonhardt and Dr. Mark Servi, all of whom work at the Pitt County Detention Center.
“With GuardTracker software, officers can instantly know any important information about any inmate, including if they are a problem inmate, those who are diabetic, those who can’t be around others, and so forth,” Williams says. “Our ultimate plan is for GuardTracker to go national, and be applicable to other types of businesses.”
Marty Hackney, Director of the ECU Entrepreneurial Initiative, says she is proud of Williams and his fortitude to have the software product developed.
“We helped him as far as we could, but he was responsible for finding investors," she says. “ECU developed a market analysis and business model for him, but he did the rest.”
Seed Money for Entrepreneurs
Entrepreneurs in the Eastern Region can also receive assistance with research, financial planning, marketing and business management through Small Business and Technology Development Center at ECU and Small Business Centers at each of the region’s 11 community colleges.
A number of initiatives are also in place to provide seed money for start-up companies. One of those is the Inception Micro Angel Fund, or IMAF East, which is designed to provide financial support to entrepreneurial ventures in the Eastern Region. The fund invests dollars, time and relationships to early-stage, high-quality, high-growth companies, so they have the best chance of achieving success. Its mission is to help fledgling companies eventually become economic contributors and job creators in the region.