Interested in starting a new business in the Auburn-Opelika area? Need help growing your business? If so, consider what the New Venture Accelerator, the Auburn Research Technology Foundation and the City of Auburn have to offer:
Auburn University and the City of Auburn encourage entrepreneurs to “Start in Auburn,” where a vibrant, supportive ecosystem is committed to advancing new and growing businesses. The university and the city provide a unique combination of resources including education, skills development, mentoring, collaborative workspace and networking opportunities. “Start in Auburn” offers consulting expertise, locations for starting a new business and opportunities for new businesses to compete for local and state funds.
Through its entrepreneurial and innovation educational programing and one-on-one business counseling, the New Venture Accelerator and its predecessors have successfully launched over 50 businesses from Auburn University’s student and faculty entrepreneurs. These businesses have received over $32.5 million in venture investment and have created over 370 jobs. This track record of success positions us to foster robust economic growth in the Auburn-Opelika area. The EDA grant allows us to offer unique tools and programming to the greater community.
City of Auburn Economic Development Department:
The creation of technology-based startups is an important pillar of the city’s economic development strategy. Currently, the city is developing programming to serve the existing entrepreneur community. In addition, the city runs an Additive Manufacturing Accelerator that aids entrepreneurs and manufacturers in developing new products through the use of 3-D printing. The city’s network of partners connects entrepreneurs with business and engineering experts to advance new endeavors.
Auburn Research and Technology Foundation (ARTF):
ARTF supports the mission of Auburn University and its Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development by growing the research enterprise through new contracts and partnerships, translating applied research into commercialized opportunities and new business ventures, and providing an entrepreneurial business environment for them to prosper. It manages and is located in The Park, a 170-acre campus directly adjacent to Auburn University. The EDA grant project operates from the Research & Innovation Center in The Park.
Auburn Technical Assistance Center:
ATAC provides business process, continuous improvement and technical assistance to manufacturers and businesses, not-for-profit organizations and government agencies in Alabama and the Southeast. The center is a recognized leader in lean manufacturing, lean healthcare, Six Sigma and business growth. Since 1976, ATAC has provided award-winning assistance to hundreds of businesses and organizations. ATAC is an Economic Development Administration University Center and an affiliate of the Alabama Technology Network.
Auburn University Office of Innovation Advancement and Commercialization:
The Office of Innovation Advancement and Commercialization (IAC) serves as the link between the commercial marketplace and Auburn University faculty. IAC offers Auburn researchers expertise and guidance in the protection of intellectual property, including patents and copyrights, and in seeking licensing agreements with commercial entities to take Auburn research developments into the marketplace for the public benefit. In addition to working with faculty to protect and market their innovations, IAC works with startup companies who are licensing university-generated technologies.
Small Business Development Center:
The SBDC at Auburn serves eight counties: Coosa, Chambers, Clay, Lee, Macon, Randolph, Russell and Tallapoosa. Residents in these counties may use the Center’s expertise and advice in many aspects of starting a business. It is part of the Alabama Small Business Development Center network, a statewide program to enhance economic growth in Alabama by providing management and technical assistance to small businesses.
The Industrial Development Board of the City of Auburn (IDB):
The vision of the IDB is to promote industry and trade, provide employment opportunities and encourage investment in the community. The IDB owns multiple facilities in Auburn that are designed as incubators to grow tech- and manufacturing-based startups.
SCORE is the nation’s largest network of volunteer expert business mentors. The City of Auburn and the Auburn Chamber of Commerce collaborated to bring the mentoring program to Auburn.
Auburn Research Park:
Operated by ARTF, The Park is an entrepreneurial ecosystem combining a business and research environment that fosters creativity and innovation, embraces collaboration and promotes partnership. It boasts over 450,000 square feet of research and innovation space across seven buildings, a healthcare facility, a childcare facility and trails and greenspace for an inviting outdoor environment. The only Class A office space in Auburn is available in its new Research and Innovation Center.
New Venture Accelerator:
The New Venture Accelerator — roughly 7,000 square feet of office space within The Park’s new Research and Innovation Center and home to a team of resident experts — will guide startups on how to create business models, identify pricing strategies and pitch to investors. This space is jointly managed by the Harbert College of Business and Auburn Research and Technology Foundation. Currently the services and business incubator space in this facility are only available to Auburn University students, faculty and staff.
Auburn Center for Developing Industries (ACDI):
Owned by the IDB, the Auburn Center for Developing Industries (ACDI) is designed for young, developing companies who will benefit from a startup environment, affordable office space and business conveniences. Additionally, there are four bays with large roll-up doors to serve as manufacturing-style lab spaces. A virtual tenant program is also available for companies which do not need office space, but would benefit from having a mailing address and access to shared amenities.
Auburn Incubator for Manufacturing (AIM):
The Auburn Incubator for Manufacturing (AIM) facility, another IDB asset, is dedicated to startups with manufacturing needs. Like ACDI, AIM is a shared space that accommodates multiple companies, features startup-affordable leases and shared resources. However, AIM is specifically equipped for manufacturing with high-voltage power capabilities, compressed air and a loading dock.
Alabama Launchpad is the state’s most active early-stage seed fund investor, driving innovation and job growth through startup competitions and ongoing mentoring for Alabama entrepreneurs. Participating concept-stage and seed-stage companies with less than $1 million raised in equity capital can compete to win $150,000 in prize money. Since its inception, Alabama Launchpad has invested $5.6 million in 100 startups in the state. Teams from Auburn have participated in the Alabama Launchpad competition.
The Tiger Cage Business Idea Competition is held annually to discover and reward the best early-stage products, services or business concepts that emerge from Auburn University and Auburn University-Montgomery students. Students compete for a share of $50,000 in startup capital funded by the Harbert College of Business, other services in kind, and a $2,500 special category award sponsored by the College of Engineering’s Thomas Walter Center for Technology Management. Competing teams have access to mentorship from the Auburn family of business professionals and successful entrepreneurs as well as the Horton Hardgrave Hall Innovation Lab.
LAUNCH is a mechanism to help connect innovative Auburn University research and the marketplace. Annually, faculty pitch for a portion of a pool of $100,000 to perform proof-of-concept work to improve the technology readiness level of their discoveries. Since its start in 2016, LAUNCH has produced 12 technologies that were ready for licensing to industry or development as a startup. Four of those technologies have already been licensed and have generated more than $1 million in equity.
Lee-Russell Council of Governments Revolving Loan Fund (LRCOGRLF):
For businesses that are ready to expand, the LRCOGRLF helps to bridge the gap for investments of $100,000 to $1 million and create and retain quality jobs by building a three-way partnership involving the entrepreneur’s business, a private lender and the LRCOGRLF. Investments involving the RLF must create one permanent, FTE job for each $20,000 of RLF participation in the loan. In addition, LRCOGRLF offers a microloan program for businesses seeking $10,000 to $25,000 to finance the acquisition of new or used equipment or to finance permanent working capital.
Headquartered in Opelika, Alabama, this “angel” investor group has nine chapters across the Southeast, including its original chapter in Auburn. With over 300 active members and $42 million invested, it is a go-to source for early-stage funding in the Southeast.
Section 108 Loans:
Through Community Development Block Grants, the City of Auburn offers microloans, commercial-industrial loans and working capital interest subsidy loans to startups and small businesses.
To learn more, contact Lou Bifano (email@example.com) at the New Venture Accelerator, Cary Chandler (firstname.lastname@example.org) at the Auburn Research Technology Foundation or Caitlin Myers (email@example.com) at the City of Auburn.