innovations product. It could be years before some of the efforts bear fruit, but the services and amenities afforded them at the incubator will go far toward helping those ideas reach the marketplace via Columbia. It’s called “soft landings” and very few places offer the caliber of service to the bright idea people working on The Next Big Thing as does the Life Science Business Incubator. As testament to the incubator’s successful track record in attracting international companies to town, the incubator was awarded International Soft Landings certification by the National Business Incubation Association last November, one of just three incubators — and the only one in the United States — so honored in 2010. The Columbia facility was cited for its menu of business services for nondomestic firms and demonstrated success in helping these firms enter the U.S. market. Of the 14 companies currently developing products in the Life Science Business Incubator, eight are homegrown and six were recruited to Columbia. Four of those six recruits came from foreign shores — United Kingdom, Israel, Sweden and India. Viewed as a model of innovation, the incubator has attracted attention in economic development circles elsewhere; officials from the Austin Technology Incubator in Texas traveled to Columbia to check out the competition. “They’re benchmarking against us,” Halliday says. The business incubator has two requirements for residency: n Applicants must have a feasible plan for their business. Incubation managers measure the business plan in terms of economic impact on the region, such as new jobs, wealth creation and investment attracted. n Ventures must have a qualifying collaboration with the University of Missouri. University spin-offs obviously satisfy this requirement; other companies are evaluated and prioritized for their collaboration potential. Although there is no rigid framework, Halliday says resident clients are expected to stay between two and five years before moving on. 32
Inside Columbia’s CEO
Published on Mar 15, 2011
Joan Gabel prepares MU business students for a bright future; the Renaissance Awards celebrate local art's biggest fans; and Columbia's busi...