ATHENS, Ohio —The Innovation Center, Ohio University’s business incubator, has been selected by the International Business Innovation Association (InBIA) to join its Global Soft Landings Network. The program identifies entrepreneurship centers that have the capacity to serve foreign companies interested in expanding outside of their domestic markets.

The network, which has 31 members around the world, offers businesses an accelerated introduction to a new country’s business practices, regulations and culture.

“This recent recognition brings to light the myriad of resources available to foreign companies in Southeast Ohio,” said Stacy Strauss, director of the Innovation Center. “We would not have received this designation without the resources of our partners—the Athens County Economic Development Council and the Appalachian Partnership for Economic Growth. Together, we have the necessary elements to attract, retain and support foreign companies in our region.”

The Innovation Center offers various services to foreign firms to facilitate soft landings, including domestic market research, identification of local customer prospects, access to capital and potential funders and cultural training. It also offers assistance with protecting intellectual property and patenting, meeting government regulations and understanding import/export laws.

Benefits of membership in the Global Soft Landings Network for the Innovation Center include global visibility, credibility through acceptance after a rigorous application process, and opportunities to collaborate with InBIA on international projects and grant proposals.

“The Innovation Center clearly demonstrated they have the resources and programming to meet the needs of foreign/non-domestic firms that want to enter the center’s domestic market,” stated Kirstie Chadwick, InBIA’s president and CEO. “InBIA’s Soft Landings designation enables entrepreneurship centers to attract new clients and differentiate their programs as being specially designed to work with a unique clientele.”

This is the most recent in a series of recognitions for the Innovation Center. In 2016, the center was named Rural Incubator of the Year by the InBIA. It was one of eight entities across the globe to be honored for its contributions to the business incubation field. The center also has been recognized as a Top University Business Incubator in North America by UBI Global, an organization that benchmarks business incubators and accelerators around the world. In 2015, the program was ranked #8 in the North American region and #3 in the United States.

The Innovation Center’s 36,000 square-foot facility features six biotechnology labs, 33 offices and prototype development space and equipment. The center serves local entrepreneurs by providing office, meeting and laboratory space with flexible lease options, as well as access to shared equipment. The incubator also offers business coaching and access to funding opportunities and other resources to help startup companies grow. The business incubator works closely with university and regional partners, including TechGROWTH Ohio, a public/private partnership based at Ohio University’s Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs.

In 2015, Innovation Center clients and recent graduates added 121 new jobs with an annual average salary that was double the average regional income.

Over the last year, the center also attracted more than 300 attendees to 12 events, including its Founders’ Forum, which unites CEOs and founders of current clients and recent graduates to discuss topics of interest and exchange information.

Contacts: Stacy Strauss, (740) 593-1803, [email protected]; Andrea Gibson, (740) 597-2166, [email protected]