UNC BizHub Collaborative offers innovative approach to helping small business with virtual incubator

By: Steve Wednesday October 15, 2014 0 comments Tags: Dick Pickett, East Colorado SBDC, Greeley, Kay Norton, LUCAN Technologies, Murat Erdogan


By Steve Porter


GREELEY - Leaders and supporters of the new UNC BizHub Collaborative said Tuesday it will be a unique and innovative addition to the northeast Colorado business community, offering incubator services across a 13-county region.

The UNC BizHub Collaborative was officially launched during a public open house on the University of Northern Colorado campus - just a block straight south of the BizHub office at 807 17th St.

The Collaborative is a joint effort between UNC, East Colorado Small Business Development Center (SBDC), and four other higher ed schools - CSU, Aims Community College, Morgan Community College and Northeast Colorado Junior College.

"This truly is a collaborative effort among many, many partners," said Kay Norton, UNC president. "We have created an innovative incubator for businesses and startups in our region, and a resource for our faculty and students."

Dick Pickett, director of the East Colorado SBDC - which has 25 satellite offices spread across the 13-county region - will serve as director of BizHub.

Pickett noted that the BizHub Collaborative is "the only incubator in the state of Colorado where the director of the SBDC is also the director of BizHub."

Pickett said while the BizHub Collaborative will have an actual office just north of the UNC campus and can access the UNC Financial Education Center for conference meetings, it will be primarily virtual in the way it delivers services.

"We're making this a virtual incubator because we have a 13-county area to cover," he said.

All of the satellite SBDC locations will be connected to BizHub via the Internet for virtual face-to-face interactions with BizHub staff.

"This is going to offer a huge opportunity to offer services to a lot more people," Pickett said. "This is a true collaborative effort to make the whole much stronger than the parts."

Pickett said SBDC staff in the 25 offices in Northeast Colorado will also be BizHub trained.

Pickett said BizHub Collaborative will be an incubator that will concentrate on the region's unique industries, including oil-and-gas and ag tourism as well as health and wellness.

But Pickett noted that the BizHub incubator will not be limited to those areas and clients could come from any sector of the economy. He also said clients would not be hustled out to make room for more.

"We'll encourage them to stay as long as they see value in what we're doing," he said.

Greeley-based Lucan Technologies is the first client to sign up for UNC BizHub Collaborative services. Murat Erdogan, president and CEO, said he considered locating his business in Fort Collins until he saw the benefits of being a nearby BizHub client.

"We're going to need help with some funding and, as we look into manufacturing, we're going to need a lot of connections," Erdogan said.

"I think BizHub will definitely help us with that."

Erdogan said he also hopes to receive business plan review assistance, access to databases and help with recruiting UNC student interns.

Pickett said while the UNC BizHub Collaborative has now been launched, full services won't be available until after Jan. 1, 2015. In the meantime, he will be recruiting mentors and seeking donated legal and other services to help get the incubator up and running.

Last week, UNC BiZHub Collaborative received a $150,000 grant from the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) to help create an incubator for Northeast Colorado.

Pickett said he does not yet know how much BizHub will charge clients for its services, but that will be worked out by the end of the year.

Entrepreneurs and small business owners interested in receiving consulting services from BizHub are asked to contact East Colorado SBDC at 970-351-4274.

About the Author: Steve