Innovation Center Ribbon-Cutting

WSU Provides New Opportunities for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

May 7, 2015
By: Christine Hickman

For student entrepreneurs at Worcester State University, it is an exciting time to be part of the community. Recent incentives created will allow for new business ventures and startups – both profit and non-profit – to take root in the city of Worcester.

WSU President Barry Maloney recently joined Congressman James P. McGovern and Worcester Business Development Corporation (WBDC) president and CEO Craig L. Blais to celebrate the opening of the Innovation Center, a new space for start-up companies and businesses in downtown Worcester that is located in former Telegram & Gazette headquarters. The building underwent a $40 million renovation and is occupied by Quinsigamond Community College, the technology company ten24 Digital Solutions, and multiple offices for future tenants.

Worcester State’s partnership with WBDC aims to support the local economy and retain graduates from the city’s nine colleges, as well as help the city revitalize the downtown area. “We have seen a growing interest among our students in starting new small businesses, some even before they graduate,” said President Maloney. “This will provide them a real-world laboratory to develop their ideas and business plans.”

“We fully expect that it will also provide the city of Worcester with start-up companies led by students from the region who will stay and grow their companies right here.”

The Innovation Center’s opening coincides with projects that are currently underway in the city, including a $7.5 million renovation of the Worcester Common and its surrounding streets, the theater district, and the Worcester Redevelopment Authority urban renewal plan.

“There is an energy and a vibrancy in Worcester right now,” said Representative McGovern, “and there is no doubt that we are on the cutting edge of technology.”

Some future tenants of the Innovation Center may one day include the recent participants in Worcester State University’s third annual Next Big Idea Contest, where students pitch their ideas for new businesses to a panel of experienced professionals and the opportunity to earn cash prizes to start or grow that business. The small business management course within the Business Administration and Economics Department supports the contest; the department recently initiated a concentration in entrepreneurial studies and small business management.

Some of the ideas presented this year included a food delivery service for colleges called Campus Essentials, a fast-food restaurant serving healthy food called Life Source, and a furniture restoration and decorating enterprise called Lynn’s Crafts ‘n’ Sass.

The judges this year included Renee King ’12, owner and founder of Queen’s Cups bakery, Dulcie Madden, CEO and a co-founder of Rest Devices, Craig Bovaird ’77, founder of Built-Rite Tool & Die, and Kevin O’Brien, a limited partner in Comprehensive Solutions Group, LLP, and Targeted English Language Solutions, as well as the son of contest creator Robert K. O’Brien.

The winning teams for Zorba’s Food Truck and Our Heart and Soles (the first tie in the contest’s history) were presented with their awards at the May 3 Academic Achievement Awards Ceremony.

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