West Virginia Executive Winter 2022 February 2022 | Page 26

3 Steps to StartUp

Facilitating the Growth of West Virginia ’ s Health Care Innovation Economy

Health care innovations in the medical technology , life science and biotechnology sectors are occurring in the Mountain State in a big way .
West Virginia possesses talented entrepreneurs who have developed revolutionary devices , drugs and software that have the potential to exponentially improve health outcomes and the lives of tens of millions around the world .
Having a great idea is one thing . Taking that idea from concept to market is a totally different challenge altogether .
The 3 Steps to StartUp program is West Virginia ’ s first truly integrated , collaborative and holistic initiative to assist technology and research-focused entrepreneurs in taking their business concept from notepad to marketplace .
Three West Virginia assistance providers — INNOVA Commercialization Group , the West Virginia Jobs Investment Trust ( WVJIT ) and TechConnect West Virginia — launched the 3 Steps to StartUp program in 2020 . The initiative was created to generate small business growth and economic diversification by addressing three areas of need for early-stage startup companies . These areas are awareness and education , commercialization assistance and investment .
Funded by the Appalachian Regional Commission and the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation through a federal Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization grant , the program builds on traditional business assistance programs and adds a suite of virtual resources . The overarching purpose of the program is to accelerate entrepreneurialism and innovation to diversify the economy in West Virginia .
This innovative program offers a range of cutting-edge services and resources , like those found in more urban , tech-centric locales like Silicon Valley and Boston . The program acts as a virtual business incubator — an entrepreneur ’ s toolbox with a structured modular map for moving a concept forward . Technology-focused , research-driven entrepreneurs have access to a wide swath of assistance to carry them through the startup lifecycle .
The “ 3 Steps ” to StartUp
The first step of the program — awareness and education — aims to identify potential entrepreneurs , enlist their participation in the program and engage them in networking and education . 3 Steps to StartUp offers an array of awareness and learning activities to create a rich pipeline of entrepreneurs and small businesses seeking startup growth opportunities .
Networking events , including high-level venture fairs , an online speaker series and LIINC — Linking Innovation , Industry and Commercialization — facilitate entrepreneurial education and program participation . Training topics range from corporate structure , intellectual property , branding , marketing and sales strategies , to how to pitch to investors and much more .
In step two — the commercialization phase — a startup ’ s status is assessed in terms of management capacity , company formation , professional needs , product design and development . The business strategy will be developed with recommendations based on how best to move forward .
Entrepreneurs entering the commercialization phase will have access to three types of services : mentorship , professional service and technical assistance .
In step three , participants have access to funding opportunities to move their concept from the research and product development phase to commercialization and beyond .
West Virginia Health Care Innovation
West Virginia is seeing tremendous growth in the launch of new entrepreneurial , innovative ventures , particularly in the fields of life science and medical technology .
Endolumik , Inc ., a medical device startup company based in Morgantown , WV , is developing fluorescence-guided surgical devices that can improve safety and clinical outcomes in