Thinking of Starting a Small Business? Check Out this New Collaboration

A collaboration between two Triad universities to establish a satellite office for commercial and intellectual property development within a new downtown co-working space is expected to help local entrepreneurs with their ideas and small businesses.

UNC-Greensboro and N.C. A&T University are placing parts of their university engagement departments within HQ Greensboro, a co-working space expected to open this summer at 111 Lewis St. in downtown Greensboro.

The satellite office will provide easier access for Triad business community members in search of advice or connections for their ideas or startups, said Bryan Toney, UNCG’s associate vice chancellor for economic development and corporate development.

“Being at HQ Greensboro, in the thick of things, will provide a lot more collaboration going forward,” Toney said. For example, UNCG’s Entrepreneurial Journeys, a monthly speaker series, will be moved from its usual on-campus location to HQ Greensboro, which Toney said will increase visibility and help reach a broader audience.

UNCG’s North Carolina Entrepreneurship Center, which Toney said helps students, faculty and community members launch startups, as well as the Office of Innovation Commercialization, which helps with intellectual property and licensing, also will locate there.

N.C. A&T will use the HQ Greensboro office as a way kick off within the next year a new concept to bring the engineering and science-related aspects of its businesses into the community.

That effort, called the University Service Center, will allow members of the business community who may have a need for sophisticated facilities the ability to go onto campus and use special instrumentation or request the university run tests that might enhance their business opportunities, said Wayne Szafranski, assistant vice chancellor for outreach and economic development.

“We see the collaboration at HQ Greensboro as a portal for some of that,” he said.

The University Service Center concept has been done on other UNC campuses (N.C. State University, for example) and is a fee model. In other words, the university would charge for machine or instrument usage time based on market rates.

But the concept, as well as locating within a satellite office downtown, will open access to technology that isn’t readily available elsewhere in Greensboro or even the region, Szafranski said. He also expects it will help link the business community to faculty and their expertise.

“It gets them out of the campus environment and gets them more into the business community,” said April Harris, a co-founder of HQ Greensboro. Andy Zimmerman, also a co-founder and owner of A-Z Development, is developing the Lewis Street project.

Zimmerman purchased 109/111 W. Lewis from South Elm Partners, an entity managed by Greensboro City Council member Nancy Hoffmann, for $250,000 on Oct. 30, according to county records. The property is adjacent to maker space The Forge and Gibb’s Hundred Brewery, both of which were developed by Zimmerman and opened last year.

Harris said HQ Greensboro — modeled after HQ Raleigh, which opened in Raleigh’s downtown Warehouse District in spring 2012 — will be a 10,000-square-foot co-working space with 15 private office suites, an outdoor terrace, four conference rooms and a classroom with full technology amenities. It will open in July, and Harris said she is working on lease agreements with several companies.

Toney and Szafranski already knew each other and have worked together in the past, Harris said.

“They decided when they heard about HQ, they said, ‘You know, wouldn’t it be great to figure out a way to have a satellite office?'” Harris said. “It’s just a better interface for the public and businesses. They’ll be more engaged in the community and more current with what’s going on.”

The collaborative effort, named the University Engagement Office at HQ Greensboro, complements other initiatives in which both UNCG and N.C. A&T already are participating at Co//abthe Forgethe Nussbaum Center for Entrepreneurship and Union Square.

“This is just another example of how we can work together and bring some of the best resources A&T has to offer, as well as some of the best resources UNCG has to offer,” Tony said.

The office will be staffed part-time by existing personnel who will assist HQ members and visitors with advice, consulting and making connections.

“It’s going to make it easier for small businesses to be more successful,” Szafranski said. “It will help us do a more complete job of being an entrepreneurial campus.”

Reposted from the Triad Business Journal
Image Credit: HQ Greensboro

entrepreneurship, partnerships