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Innovation center helps fledgling entrepreneurs grow a business

Union Leader Correspondent

July 27. 2013 3:15PM
The New Hampshire Innovation Commercialization Center celebrated its new space on Green Street in Portsmouth on Thursday night with a "pivot party." (GRETYL MACALASTER/Union Leader Correspondent)

PORTSMOUTH - Entrepreneurs, business veterans and others gathered in the New Hampshire Innovation Commercialization Center office in Portsmouth to celebrate the organization's reincarnation on Thursday night.

The model of the NH-ICC brings various entrepreneurs together to build an educational foundation, a venue for sharing ideas and a broad network of mentors to assist start-ups with a wide range of issues.

"First and foremost, entrepreneurs are at the center of what we do," NH-ICC Executive Director Mark Kaplan said. "What we do as an organization is to bring to bear the resources of the community to help support those businesses."

The primary resource is experienced entrepreneurs who can help the next generation avoid the pitfalls and obstacles they would otherwise face, whether finding venture capital or effectively marketing their product or service.

Kaplan said they are not an organization to help existing small-business owners, but entry-level entrepreneurs with a vision for a scalable business, and not just in the area of technology.

"I don't want us to be viewed just as a technology incubator. We need to think more broadly. I think we will have a greater impact on the economy if we think more broadly," Kaplan said.

The organization has undergone significant changes in the last five months since Kaplan took over the position of executive director from Mark Galvin, including the move to Green Street and the addition of an NH-ICC office in Durham.

Kaplan said the underlying message of Thursday's "pivot party" is that "the door is open."

Another goal of the night was to thank Manchester-based Dyn and the University of New Hampshire for their financial and other support during the transition.

NH-ICC was founded in part to help commercialize UNH's innovations and intellectual property.

The event also celebrated the changes the organization is undertaking and to describe its new model.

In the coming weeks, it will announce a lineup of programming geared toward entrepreneurs, including lunch and learn events and roundtable events that are educational and use outside resources to assist start-up businesses.

Late in the fall, NH-ICC will be taking applications for a new accelerator program that will begin in the new year.

The accelerator program will be selective and specifically designed to help businesses "scale up" what they are working on.

About a dozen start-ups currently call the Portsmouth NH-ICC home, including Unified Office.

Employee Steve Glenfield said he likes the synergistic model of having a number of different businesses housed under the same roof, even if they have nothing to do with one another.

"You find someone at another company doing something completely different will have input and can give ideas," Glenfield said.

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