With luck, the Technology Incubator at Knowledge Park in downtown Rock Hill will help hatch some healthy new businesses.
The basic premise behind the incubator, which is located on the fifth floor of the Citizens building on Main Street, is that two – or more – heads are better than one, especially if those involved are tech savvy. In addition to putting people with similar goals in the same space, the incubator also supplies them with office space, cubicles, comfortable seating and other equipment.
The effort also has the help of Clemson University, which is sponsoring similar incubators across the state. Clemson will provide a step-by-step plan for budding entrepreneurs and other guidance in taking an idea to the production stage under its commercialization and technology incubation program.
Karl Kelly, who directs that program, wants to shorten the incubation process and cut down on the number of failures.
“Untethered and unassisted, entrepreneurs often fail three out of four times before they build a really successful company,” he said. The hope is that the incubator will improve the odds.
So far, three companies have signed on to use the incubator, which had its grand opening Aug. 20. More might come aboard soon.
The concept for this project seems rock solid. Entrepreneurs in the competitive arena of tech startups can benefit considerably from feedback and constructive criticism from fellow entrepreneurs and incubator staff who have technical know-how. Everyone is helping each other, and that improves the chances that all will succeed.
Participants also can draw on Clemson for information and other resources, such as using students as test subjects.
Clemson started its first incubator in Bluffton and plans to open one soon in Hartsville. Two companies at the Bluffton site have taken their vision to the manufacturing stage.
This is an innovative approach and one that’s new for Rock Hill. In the past, the city has focused largely on attracting businesses such as restaurants to the downtown area. The incubator could actually grow a business from scratch that would then be based downtown, helping spur economic activity there.
And, who knows, one of those businesses could put downtown on the map.
Entrepreneurs still will have to do the heavy lifting. But the incubator can provide the sort of nurturing environment that encourages and assists people with vision to put their ideas to practical use.
We look forward to seeing how this project progresses in the months ahead.