One of the City’s goals has been to develop a business incubator to encourage entrepreneurial development and facilitate the creation of new businesses. Business incubators play a critical role in Riverside’s success in developing a vibrant and robust entrepreneurial economy. Last week, Riverside continued to stand behind that philosophy and invested $91,000 of its Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding into an expanding incubator managed by the Innovation Economy Corporation.
In 2010, local entrepreneur, Amro Albanna, established the Innovation Economy Initiative IE Initiative), a business acceleration program designed to assist in the commercialization of emerging technology companies by providing in- depth business guidance, entrepreneurial education and access to capital and service providers. The City partnered in launching the IE Initiative by providing a $390, 000 grant from redevelopment funds. Since that time, Mr. Albanna established the Innovation Economy Corporation (IEC) and has branded his location as the Innovation Center and, by offering space at a reduced rate, assisted in recruiting gaming company Broken Circle Studios, a developer of entertainment software for a variety of platforms including Microsoft, Apple and Xbox Live, to Riverside. Since moving into the building, Broken Circle has added several employees and recruited a number of interns from UCR’ s Computer Science and Engineering department.
IEC has created 20 professional jobs and three administrative jobs; raised private capital; leased nearly 18,000 square feet of office and industrial space and created two new businesses, Olfactor Laboratories and Nano Engineered Applications. Mr. Albanna continues to market the Innovation Center to local entrepreneurs and start-ups. In
an effort to help facilitate their rapid growth and continue to provide entrepreneurs with office space and business resources, IEC has requested assistance to support their incubation activities and in turn will assist in the creation of new business enterprises.
Ward 1 Councilman Mike Gardner noted during the City Council presentation, “Incubators create new jobs, they don’t just relocate jobs…we should do this.”
The Innovation Economy Corporation efforts and the investment of the City help provide a fertile ground for the development of new ideas and business innovation.
According to the National Business Incubation Association, “Businesses which participate in an incubator program have a success rate of approximately 80% over a five year period, compared to rate of 20-30% for non-incubated business.”
A number of other organizations have already approached the City looking to establish strategic partnerships that would help facilitate the creation of new business incubators or incubation services. One of these groups, Vocademy, is planning to create the region’ s first membership-based, do-it-yourself workshop, that would provide members the use of tools and equipment and classes as well as a co-working space for start-ups in the manufacturing or engineering space. Such a facility would offer members a productive and comfortable environment to create prototypes and develop their ideas into products. Another organization has discussed the idea of creating “co-working” space for entrepreneurs in the downtown area.
Entrepreneurs can find more information about these incubators and other business resources by visiting www.riversideca.gov/econdev/business-resources or by contacting the City’ s Technology Ombudsman, Greg Lee, at (877) 748-7433.