News
News Home
Quick Bites
Exploradio
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
NPR
nowplaying
On AirNewsClassical
Loading...
  
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

The Holden Arboretum

Wayside Furniture


For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )


Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us
Economy and Business




Exploradio: Inside the Accelerator
Akron offers entrepreneurs cheap rent, free advice, and a former factory in an effort to rebuild the city's industrial base
by WKSU's JEFF ST. CLAIR
This story is part of a special series.


Reporter / Host
Jeff St. Clair
 
A compact combined high-res PET and CT scanner is the premier product of FMI Medical Systems. The machines are being developed and built at the Akron Global Business Accelerator for a world market.
Courtesy of FMI Medical Systems
Download (WKSU Only)
In The Region:

For nearly three decades Akron’s Global Business Accelerator has nurtured new ventures through their most critical phases.

In this week’s Exploradio, WKSU’s Jeff St.Clair explores the creative act of building businesses.

 

Listen to this week's Exploradio

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (4:04)


(Click image for larger view.)

Incubator to Accelerator

CEO Mike LeHere has been with the Akron Global Business Accelerator since its inception in 1983.  Back then it was called the Business Incubator, a name he says some start-ups have outgrown.

“They don’t mind incubating when they’re small, but when they start to establish a market presence, accelerator sounds much better to them than incubator.”

The former Goodrich factory, a 9-story red-brick building with massive freight elevators, is an incubator, but it also serves as a safety net and a launch pad.

One company LeHere highlights on the Accelerator tour is Summit Data Communications, which is ready to leave the nest after six years of incubation.

Leaving the nest

Summit Data Communications makes industrial- and medical-grade wireless modules.  It was acquired this year by technology giant Laird Technologies, and Summit Data will soon be moving its 30-some employees to a new home in downtown Akron. 

But President Ron Seide says being surrounded by other entrepreneurs helped relieve some of the pressures of starting his business.  He says starting a company is an anxious experience and, "just being in the same building with people who are going through some of the same experiences  does give one a bit of reassurance and also there’s a sort of vibe here that only comes from having a lot of entrepreneurs all in one location.”

Right now, 54 ventures call the Akron Accelerator home.  Most are truly in the incubation stage; two thirds are surviving solely on investor revenue.  Mike LeHere has high hopes for one company left homeless by the economic crisis.

Made in Ohio

FMI Medical Systems President Bill McCroskey credits the Accelerator for keeping his business alive during the 2008 stock market crash.  He says, "there was no venture funding so we ran out of money literally and we used to joke about driving to work on fumes.”

McCroskey this year secured $20 million from Chinese venture capitalists, enough to push forward his plans to design and build diagnostic scanners for cardiac and cancer patients at the Akron Accelerator primarily for the Chinese market.

He proudly points to his prototype, being built one compentent in one of his leased labs, “This machine is a first of its type in the world, we’re building 10 systems in parallel right now and this is the first pre-production unit and we call it RD-1.”

McCroskey is building and designing his machines from the ground up, taking on industry giants like Siemens and GE with what he says will be the most compact combined high-res PET and CT scanners.

It’s this kind of risk taking LeHere and the Accelerator thrive on.

“We invested time and space in Bill’s company, but we are confident that as this company succeeds, Bill and his investors are going to make a substantial investment back in to Akron and the Northeast Ohio community.”

FMI expects to start making money within the next five years, but may graduate from the Accelerator to a new building in Akron’s medical corridor sometime before then.

From Ljubljana to Akron

It’s day one for another group at the Accelerator.  Majda Zigon is president of the science council of the National Institute of Chemistry in Ljubljana, Slovenia.  She's part of a delegation of Slovenian chemists inspecting their new Akron offices for the first time.  The state-sponsored polymer research collaborative drawn to Akron by the city's reputation in the field.

Zigon says the combination of the University of Akron's polymer research center, and the nearly 2 million fellow Slovenians living in Northeast Ohio makes Akron, "an obvious selection.”

The Accelerator provides cheap rent, about $5.00 a square foot for office space, free consultations, and introductions to the local network of polymer industries.   It also provides a heavy dose of the entrepreneurial spirit that’s been incubating innovation in Akron, from concept to product, for nearly 30 years.

Add Your Comment
Name:

Location:

E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Comments:




 
Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook



Support for Exploradio
provided by:








Stories with Recent Comments

Ohio to appeal ruling keeping Akron's red light cameras in place
I don't understand what all the fuss is about. If you don't like tickets drive the speed limit and stop at red lights. It's really all up to you.

Who's on public assistance in Ohio?
legalize marijuana get over it,,, its here its been the main drug test scare of a lifetime. u got people that get drunk every night and work u got peoples on ...

Letters from a lost friend: A Beachwood survivor's Holocaust remembrance
What a great story -- and how important it was for both Marlene and her mother to tell it! Thank you.

Ohio lawmaker calls for an East Cleveland bailout
Instead of blaming Kasich and the Republicans for all of East Cleveland's fiscal woes, take a look at the facts. Some political entities in Ohio are too small ...

Legalized marijuana is a boon for a Cleveland-area grow light maker
Shouldn't he be in jail for paraphernalia? He knows he is selling for marijuana production.

Akron city council to vote on resolution for hiring ex-offenders
Great as a taxpayer I paid for the police to catch them, the free lawyer, the jail to house them , the food their kids eat the medical for them and all its goin...

5 of 8 rule headed for a vote
this is just another way for kasich to pass the buck and claim that it gives the local districts control. Few schools have enough money because of his cuts. T...

A passionate debate about parole in Ohio
I was heartened to hear that the legislators will consider ANY legislation to break the chains the parole board has put on these old law offenders who have serv...

Bill would allow Ohio religious leaders to refuse to do gay marriages
This is just a lot of political posturing. The free exercise clause of the 1st Amendment already protects clergy from being forced by civil authorities to perfo...

Copyright © 2015 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

 
In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University