Regional Economic Development Center wraps up successful year
CLEMSON — Clemson’s Regional Economic Development Center (REDC) added incubators in Rock Hill and Hartsville brought more than a dozen new companies under the Clemson Technology Villages umbrella in 2014.
These startups ranged from a developer of software platforms to optimize industries like machine manufacturing and public health administration, one that digitizes historic architecture in South Carolina and another that is developing a biofuel out of a unique regional algae.
The REDC provides startup support and services to participating community incubators across South Carolina. The center employs faculty, graduate and undergraduate students as part of the Technology Villages program, which provides a broad range of services for startup companies.
Rock Hill’s addition to the Clemson Technology Villages network is becoming a perfect example of REDC’s vision for the startup small business community in South Carolina: one defined by a unique culture and lifestyle and directly made possible by the capabilities and efforts of Clemson students.
Expansion of the program also allowed REDC to increase capacity by adding new paid positions for Clemson students to serve the startups’ needs. This student team, whose collective expertise includes everything from entrepreneurship, business development and marketing to finance, engineering and biology, has allowed REDC to consistently deliver valuable content and services to small businesses across the state.
Small companies are not the only ones who benefit from this innovative program; Clemson undergraduate and graduate students are receiving real-world experience to enhance their resumes and build their skill sets.
“As an international student working on my MBA, I was searching for a good way to gain a deeper understanding of American business and business culture. I found that the assistantship at REDC was the perfect vehicle to achieve those goals,” said Ryan Zhou, a Clemson MBA candidate. “It is difficult to gain insight into American business without actually spending time living and working in America. REDC gave me a jump start by allowing me to work with a diverse client base of business people and entrepreneurs.”
“Clemson University, as an institution, acts as both a proponent of and catalyst for ‘hands on’ learning experiences for its student,” said financial management and marketing major Summers Binnicker. “My time at the REDC has been a fantastic chance to gain insight and perspective on entrepreneurship and small-business development. When I enter the office every day, I know for certain that I’ll learn something new. Classroom topics become functional and real as we assist new entrepreneurs seeking REDC services.”
The REDC and the Technology Villages program now serve more than two dozen startups and small businesses across the state. Examples of a few of the companies helped are listed below.
- ARVA is a manufacturer of LED lighting products. The REDC researched niche markets for LED lighting products to enlighten the innovator on expansion opportunities in the external environment.
- cSimplify is a software suite that increases the efficiency of the instrumentation and control engineering design process. The REDC provided a market research report of the control systems industry in the United States and identified target sectors of manufacturers who could be customers.
- Carolina Ethanol is a producer of green energy created through a unique process to utilize seaweed for ethanol production. The REDC is assisting the inventor in exploring process patents.
- MobiPet is a facial recognition technology for lost pets. The REDC examined various crowd funding services such as Kickstarter, EquityNet and Indiegogo to identify the best means for the inventor to acquire funding.
- CERAS, which stands for Clean Energy Rapid Assembly Structure, is a kit that can be used to build structures without power tools and leaves no waste or clean up. The REDC identified the size of the market for small do-it-yourself structures, such as outbuildings, kids’ playhouses or landscape/hardscape sheds and provided wholesale lumber prices to assist calculating the cost savings in switching from retail purchasing. The final product is being prototyped for market.