CLEMSON — Clemson University undergraduates and faculty wanting to accelerate their business ideas from a vision to reality now have access to a business incubator in downtown Clemson.

Matt Klein

Matthew Klein

The Clemson Venture Accelerator has opened its doors at 107 Sloan St. College of Business leaders say the space will cater to entrepreneurs from all educational disciplines and provide space dedicated to research, planning and launching startup businesses.

“The venture accelerator will provide a community of entrepreneurs with valuable tools through which they can research, plan and launch their ideas in a focused environment,” said Matthew Klein, executive director of the Arthur M. Spiro Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership. “The accelerator environment will provide peer and mentor networking, advising sessions and many other resources that will help students and faculty jump-start their business ideas.”

Founded in 1994, the Spiro Institute is the university’s hub of entrepreneurial learning across all campus disciplines. It provides an educational and research program in entrepreneurship aimed at improving the economic development of the region, state and nation.

“Business happens downtown in the real world, so the Spiro Institute is creating an entrepreneurial ecosystem in downtown Clemson,” Klein said. “What better place to move a business forward than with a strong support network, amongst other businesses?”

The venture accelerator will help Clemson’s entrepreneurial community nurture their ideas through every phase of development. The space “will allow for collisions of like-minded, innovative people working in a collaborative environment,” Klein added.

He said as students and faculty explore and vet their ideas, much of their preliminary work can be done in the semi-private workspaces provided by the venture accelerator.

“It will be a community of innovators, who between or after classes, can conduct research to validate their market opportunities before moving their business idea forward,” he said.

Julia Brino, a junior majoring in management, got an early glimpse of the accelerator, having worked there this summer doing research as an intern.

“The incubator is a great asset for entrepreneurs who want to know what preliminary work it takes before launching a product. The space will be collaborative, providing great networking opportunities and interaction with peers and mentors who can help get you on your way.”

Klein said the venture accelerator will be a convenient outlet, and opportunity, for faculty on the main campus wanting to commercialize their technologies or intellectual properties. A Clemson professor the Spiro Institute is working with to commercialize his battery technology is Kumar Venayagamoorthy, Duke Energy Distinguished Professor of Power Engineering in the Holcombe Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

“There are many professors on campus, like Kumar, wanting to take some great ideas to market. The venture accelerator’s resources and location will make it a very convenient and valuable resource for them to do so.”

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