MANCHESTER — Two nonprofit groups are joining forces to expand entrepreneurship in the Granite State, aiming to unite regional efforts to build companies that can grow to become major employers in New Hampshire.
The New Hampshire Innovation Commercialization Center, better known as the NH-ICC, with locations in Portsmouth and Durham; and the abi Innovation Hub, based in Manchester, announced their merger on Wednesday at the abi's headquarters on Elm Street.
The new entity — to be known as the abi HUB — will promote "innovation, commercialization and acceleration," the group said.
"The vision of this state is going to create a lot of long-lasting large companies that headquarter here and then grow other companies beyond them years and years from now," said abi board member Kyle York, chief revenue officer for Manchester tech company Dyn, after members of the two nonprofits signed legal documents on Wednesday.
The merger developed over the past year during talks to hire Mark Kaplan as CEO of the NH-ICC, which was founded in partnership with the University of New Hampshire. Since Kaplan joined the group, he has been raising funds through the New Hampshire Community Development Finance Authority, strengthening relationships with UNH, Dyn and other supporters, and launching programs and services for entrepreneurs.
Meanwhile, the abi Innovation Hub has been undergoing changes under CEO Jamie Coughlin and COO Michele Peterson, who moved the operation from the Millyard area to downtown Manchester, where it provides workspace and services for entrepreneurs.
Coughlin recently was hired by Dartmouth College to lead its entrepreneurial programs, though he will continue to serve on the abi's board. Kaplan will lead the combined organization, whose team will include Petersen and Kristin Lane, manager of communications and sites,
"The merger of the two organizations, first broached with me by NH-ICC board member (and Dyn Chief Operating Officer) Gray Chynoweth when I was interviewed, provides an opportunity to leverage everything each brings to the equation and broaden efforts to support entrepreneurship across southern New Hampshire," Kaplan said in a news release.
The abi HUB will work with UNH to commercialize intellectual property and research coming out of the university as well as supporting student and faculty entrepreneurship, the group said.
The nonprofit said it has leveraged more than $150,000 of support through NH Community Development Finance Authority tax credits. Other sponsors include: PSNH, SNHU, Borealis Ventures, GY&K Marketing, Cook Little Rosenblatt & Manson, Devine Millimet, Centrix Bank, Bank W Holdings and PixelMEDIA.