Providing a new home for an incubator, the first phase of the Howard County Innovation Center in Columbia is complete.
According to the Howard County Economic Development Authority (HCEDA), renovations were completed on the third floor of the building on on Columbia Gateway Drive, providing 16,000 square feet of space. It includes incubator space, private offices, coworking space and a pair of classrooms.
With the project, HCEDA is bringing together small business and entrepreneurial resources in the county-owned building, CEO Lawrence Twele said. It’s designed to offer a single place where companies can get access to resources and support, as well as share ideas.
“We’re positioning it as a center of innovation for the region,” Twele said.
The Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship (MCE) and its 19 member companies relocated from the center’s original home at 9520 Bendix Road. HCEDA’s Catalyst Loan Fund, which provides capital to minority- and woman-owned small businesses statewide, is also at the space. The Howard Tech Council also relocated to the new facility, along with four HCEDA employees.
MCE offers meetings with councillors for those interested in starting and growing a business, as well as membership for high-growth companies that includes mentorship and the option to take space at the incubator.
It’s also providing a place to tap into resources from others. HCEDA is bringing a course called Kauffman FastTrac, which was launched by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, that guides entrepreneurs through the process of business planning. Beginning on July 17, it runs 10 Wednesday nights and concludes with a pitch competition.
Later this month, Startup Grind’s Columbia chapter will hold its annual startup showcase at the center.
Going forward, further renovations are expected on the lobby of the building, space for additional organizations and a conference center. Tech partners have also signed on to locate in the space. The county signed an agreement with R&D nonprofit MITRE to open a space known as the Viking Lab, which will focus on critical infrastructure and be operated by Howard County-based company Trimia. Fraunhofer USA also signed on to open its Center for Experimental Software Engineering at the site.
The initial phase of construction was completed following a memorandum of understanding signed between HCEDA and County Executive Calvin Ball in March.
“With this hub for entrepreneurs we will continue to grow our culture of forward-thinking business and secure long-term success in Howard County,” Ball said in a statement.
Check out some more photos of the space:-30-