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December 30. 2012 9:05PM

Rochester competition aims to jumpstart business startups

ROCHESTER - The city is teaming up with a Manchester-based nonprofit mentoring firm to encourage new innovations to arise and inspire the community.

Throughout January, Rochester's Economic Development Department and the abi Innovation Hub, located at 844 Elm St. in Manchester, will start collecting applications for the first Start Up Business Competition.

Applications will be accepted between Jan. 1 and 31.

"We wanted to do some incubation project for some time," said Karen Pollard, deputy city manager and director of economic development.

Pollard said Mary Ellen Humphrey, the city's economic development specialist, met with abi's CEO Jamie Coughlin during a previous event. As a result of their impressive history of helping other companies in the Manchester area, she added, they decided to hold a similar contest in Rochester.

The abi Innovation Hub is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that aims to attract, mentor and foster growth and success of technology startups and innovative companies, according to their website. This competition, which is open to high-technology focused businesses, serves as a conduit to identify startup companies in the city while providing all contestants exposure for potential venture investors and customers, Pollard said.

The competition is open to for-profit, technology-focused businesses which were not formed more than five years before Jan. 31, have not raised more than $100,000 in funding from unaffiliated parties or have not had revenues exceeding $100,000 annually, according to a release by the city.

"We're actually looking for great ideas which will turn into businesses," Pollard said, adding the city hopes to identify people and companies that have a new way to use an existing technology or have an new innovative idea.

The winning business, which will be named during an event Feb. 13, will receive $10,000 worth of assistance, which could include advice on potential locations, advertisements and mentoring. "It really depends on what they (contestants) want to do," Pollard said, adding all applicants must submit a five-page business summary as part of the process.

Summaries should include information about the company, the demonstrated need of the product or service, size of the market, competition, pricing and how the contest will help move things forward. Following the competition, qualified applicants may be invited to participate in a startup accelerator program where they will receive expert advice and access to resources to help them grown their business, according to the release.

While there are no guarantees, Pollard said there are several successful businesses that started in Rochester, including Technoweave, which led to Albany International Corp.; Spectex LLC; Phase 2 Medical Device Manufacturing; and Laars Heating Systems Co.

Pollard said the city has many potential sites for businesses to start up and grow - both in the downtown and around the community.

"We anticipate to do this multiple times," Pollard said, adding the competition will only get better and more profitable for contestants and the community as time goes on. Pollard said there has already been a lot of interest in the completion, and several companies have requested application forms from the Economic Development Office - which is in the Rochester Community Center.

There is no application fee and applicants do not have to be a Rochester resident.

Applications are also available online at abihub.org or thinkrochester.biz.

jquinn@newstote.com



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