NWMSU’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship Incubating Success

Editor’s Note: Northwest launched a regional economic development initiative, the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. The Center is a combination of mixed-use incubator and an academic facility. The incubator can house several start-up companies while the academic facility will house the newly approved nanotechnology baccalaureate degree program.

Northwest Missouri State University’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE), is a high-technology business incubator and academic facility that will house both corporate tenants and the University’s Graduate Applied Research Center.

The idea for the incubator came from (former) President of the University, Dr. Dean Hubbard. According to Thomas Billesbach, (former) Dean of the Booth College of Business and Professional Studies,  “He (Hubbard) recognized the need for economic development growth in the region and put together a small team to propose the plan to the Board of Regents and State officials.”

Funding for Northwest’s CIE is being provided through Missouri’s Lewis and Clark Discovery Initiative, a measure designed to fund science and technology facilities at public colleges and universities statewide.

Missouri-based Carbolytic Materials Company (CMC), which recovers marketable industrial materials from shredded automotive tires, has signed a memorandum of understanding with the University declaring its intent to become the first incubator tenant. CMC, which has announced that it will build a new factory in Maryville, plans to use the center for its research and development operations.

As a part of their commitment to the area, CMC is also building a plant in Maryvilles Industrial Park where they will execute on the findings from the R & D established in the incubator. “They have a patented process to take tire scraps and convert that material to produce three substances; the first a solid which is ‘Carbon Black’ used in the production of tires and windshield wipers. The second is a gas which has properties similar to propane. The third is a liquid with properties similar to diesel fuel,” explained Charles McAdams, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

‘When CMC agreed to come here, not only did they put their research piece in the incubator, they brought their plant to Maryville. So already, we’ve won,” added Billesbach.

Since Northwest is a teaching University, is there an opportunity to incubate student entrepreneurs? “We thought, this is a great opportunity. We call it a Student Enterprise Zone. We’ll have an application process which will include a business plan and student will be allowed to run a business in the incubator. They’ll have to go through many of the same hoops that a regular tenant will have to go through, but will have the opportunity to be over there and learn from other entrepreneurs, Billesbach added.

Talk about “cooperative education.” Now there’s an opportunity to learn real world lessons while you earn.

To find out more about Northwest Missouri State University’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) find them online or contact Larry Lee, Director Center of Innovation & Entrepreneurship at: llee@nwmissouri.edu

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