Orlando, Florida—InBIA recognized excellence in entrepreneur support through its annual awards program during the 37th annual International Conference on Business Incubation, which was held April 22-26 in Detroit, Michigan. Awards included Entrepreneur Support Organization (ESO) of the year in multiple categories, specialty awards, and the field’s  most prestigious awards, the Randall M. Whaley and the Dinah Adkins Awards.  

First Flight Venture Center of Research Triangle Park took top honors, receiving the Randall M. Whaley ESO of the Year Award, as well as the Dinah Adkins Award for a Technology-Based ESO and the ESO of the Year: Technology/Science awards. Based in Durham, North Carolina and founded in 1992, First Flight Venture Center has supported the development and growth of high science, high impact entrepreneurial companies by providing the tailored resources, guidance, connections, and support required for sustained commercial success.

The Randall M. Whaley award is InBIA’s highest honor.  Dedicated to the memory of Dr. Whaley, who served as InBIA’s first chairman of the board from 1985 to 1988, the award is InBIA’s only endowed award and is sponsored by the Friends of the University City Science Center of Philadelphia. The University City Science Center is the urban research park and incubator Dr. Whaley managed for many years.

The Dinah Adkins award pays tribute to the accomplishments and contributions of Dinah Adkins, a pioneer in the business incubation industry. In 1982, Adkins became the Executive Director of the Ohio University Innovation Center, one of the earliest incubators established in the United States. Adkins was one of the founding members of InBIA when it was established in 1985 as the National Business Incubation Association (NBIA – the name changed in 2015) and appointed as the association’s president and CEO in 1988, a job she held until her retirement in 2009.

In dedication to Julius Morgan, InBIA launched the Diversity and Inclusion Award last year. Julius Morgan was a co-founder of the National Business Incubation Association (NBIA) and served as the first African American Director of its Board of Directors (1990-1996). He symbolized a new brand of business incubators – those bringing economic development to urban entrepreneurship ecosystems – and he is credited with bringing the Milwaukee Enterprise Center (MEC) into fruition. 

Award winners in other categories include: 

  • 2023 Entrepreneur Support Organization of the Year Award Technology & Science: First Flight Venture Center
  • 2023 Entrepreneur Support Organization of the Year Award Mixed-Use: National Entrepreneur Center
  • 2023 Entrepreneur Support Organization of the Year Award Sector Focused: Scott County Community Development Agency: Center for Entrepreneurship 
  • 2023 Specialty Award Most Innovative Program: Texas Tech University Innovation Hub/Faculty C Startup Program
  • 2023 Specialty Awards Outstanding Client: Iowa State University Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship/Clayton Farms
  • 2023 Specialty Award Diversity and Inclusion: Central Michigan University Research Corporation (CMURC)

About InBIA

InBIA is a global nonprofit with over 1,200 members that lead entrepreneurship centers in 30 countries. For nearly 40 years, InBIA has provided industry best practices through education while enabling collaboration, mentorship, peer-based learning and the sharing of innovative ideas for entrepreneurs across the globe. InBIA is the premier organization for business incubators, accelerators, coworking spaces, and other entrepreneurship centers.


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