University of South Carolina

USC Innovista wins grant to support startups and new product development

By Steven Powell,, 803-777-1923

The University of South Carolina’s efforts to support technology commercialization and entrepreneurship were boosted this week with the announcement of a $645,000 five-year grant to launch a center to help startups with new product development.

The Innovista Center for Product Realization (ICPR) will be an interdisciplinary, collaborative and holistic approach to helping technology-based startups. The ICPR will feature a product design and prototype development program that will help companies create product concepts and applications that have commercial potential and help them develop strategies for getting those products into the marketplace.

“One of the major constraints facing firms outside of regions like Silicon Valley is access to sufficient capital and talent to achieve critical mass and scalability for their product offerings,” said Don Herriott, director of Innovista. “ICPR will provide the infrastructure, resources and collaborative relationships that capital-starved startups require to take their idea or technology to the next level.”

Startups in and around USC will have access to a highly experienced team of product design, development and management experts both inside the university and in the private sector. At USC, the program will leverage the expertise of faculty at the College of Engineering and Computing, the Darla Moore School of Business and the University’s Office of Technology Commercialization.

“The product realization center is yet another example of the university’s commitment to cultivating innovation, entrepreneurship and technology commercialization,” Herriott said. “It furthers Innovista’s mission of attracting and growing new high-tech businesses to our community and across the state.”

The ICPR will partner with programs and facilities throughout the region, including the USC/Columbia Technology Incubator and the Southeastern Institute for Manufacturing and Technology (SiMT) in Florence, S.C., to help startups turn product “concepts” into commercially viable products and applications.

The Center for Entrepreneurial and Technological Innovation (CETi) will manage the ICPR program and provide access to mentors, training sessions and startup service providers.

“One of the gaps of the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the Midlands is a lack of support services for new ventures when it comes to new product design, development and management,” said Greg Hilton, director of CETi.  “Filling these gaps will spur new demand for services and capital, and the support system will increase the depth of the startup pipeline in the region.”

Funding was awarded to universities in eight states as part of the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s University Center Economic Development Program, a partnership to leverage university assets to promote American innovation and strengthen regional economic ecosystems.

Individuals or businesses seeking more information on ICPR should contact Lauren Edwards with Innovista at 803-777-9796 or


About USC Innovista: Innovista is a strategic economic development effort that is connecting USC and university-spawned innovations with entrepreneurs, businesses and stakeholders. Its purpose is to help attract and create technology-intensive, knowledge-based companies, which will result in higher-paying jobs and raise the standard of living in South Carolina.

About CETi: CETi is the University of South Carolina’s entrepreneurial resource center. It is the university’s launchpad and connection point into Columbia’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. Its mission is to find, educate, connect and accelerate early stage technology and innovation driven startups. CETi is powered by USC Innovista and managed by the USC/Columbia Technology Incubator.

About the USC/Columbia Technology Incubator: The USC / Columbia Technology Incubator is a non-profit corporation supported by USC, the City of Columbia and area governments which is materially supported by businesses and private donors. Since its inception in November 1998, the Incubator has provided opportunities for entrepreneurs to commercialize their ideas, produced successful, financially viable and freestanding businesses, and created hundreds of additional jobs in the community. The Incubator wants high-tech, high-growth companies that can benefit from all the Incubator partners including the University of South Carolina and Midlands Technical College with its manufacturing startup facilities. The Incubator is currently home to 31 resident startups.

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Posted: 07/19/12 @ 2:10 PM | Updated: 07/19/12 @ 2:11 PM | Permalink