Last month, we had the opportunity to put three groups together to host a joint consultants roundtable. These groups are:
- Carolinas Chapter of the Product Development & Management Association (www.pdma.org/carolinas)
- Carolinas Section of the ASME (http://sections.asme.org/carolina/)
- Triangle Engineering Consultants (www.tecgroup.org)
After a short networking session, we listened to a short keynote talk from Charles Lord (Triangle Advanced Design and Automation — http://www.tadatraining.com) about the subject of integrating consultants into your design process. The presentation, in power point format, is available at All_I_need_is.ppt.
The roundtable discussion include eight consultants and a regional economist (Tom Vass). The discussion was titled “Integrating Consultants into A Well-Run Design Process”. To my surprise, and contray to the efforts of the moderator [me], the discussion kept straying onto the topic of how can consultants work with inventors and early-stage startups.
The result of this discussion was Tom Vasss October 26th blog posting on the Design blogs at blog.Montie.com. Several of the attendees and consultants made suggestions of resources for these types of situations. Bill Sullivan (Carolinas PDMA Chapter member) highlighted the following resources:
From the University of Illinois:
Illinois incubator (Theyve upgraded their facilities!)
Illinois Business Consulting (IBC)
From UNC there is an organization that supports Entrepreneurship, but it doesnt seem to have an incubator. Interestingly, its sponsored in part by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, who is a big supporter of the University of Illinois program and the IBC. I was a Kauffman fellow when I was at U of I. Also, as mentioned on Thursday, UNC has the STAR program for student consulting.
Carolina Entrepreneurial Initiative (UNC)
STAR – Student Teams Achieving Results (UNC)
NC State has their technology incubator, but doesnt seem to have a student business consulting organization.
NC State Technology Incubator
Duke has an organization that supports Entrepreneurship, but like UNC it doesnt look like they have an incubator. They do have a student consulting organization that specifically mentions its commitment to pro bono consulting to local businesses that dont have the resources to get paid consulting.
Center for Entrepreneurship and Research Commercialization (CERC) – Duke
Fuqua Student Consulting Program (Duke/Fuqua)
Creed Huddleston (Vice President of Omnisys Corp — www.omnisyscorp.com) suggested these:
Another organization that is focused on developing entrepreneurship nationwide is the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation out of Kansas City. Their website is full of useful information on all aspects of business operations and development.
One of the things we discussed last night was having an “opportunity fair” type of event on an annual basis. It looks like CED is putting on just such an event in Wilmington in December, with registration discounts prior to 11/3:
Opportunity 2006 Conference:
Here are some useful CED (Council for Entrepreneurial Development) links that describe how CED can help and the programs they offer. One item that attracted my attention based on last nights discussion is their Entrepreneurs Only Workshop series, which are lunch-time meetings that give current and budding entrepreneurs useful knowledge on the whole start-up process. Ive also included the Business Stages page since that breaks out their programs by their applicability to a particular phase in the business life cycle.
CED home page:
Programs and events:
Entrepreneurs Only Workshop:
MIT On-line Courses
Fred Buggie (Strategic Innovations International, Inc. — www.StrategicInnovations.com) suggested:
Every State I know of has an organization charged with the responsibility of inducing large companies to locate operations in their State. Those organizations normally are called “Industrial Development Authorities,” or “Indl Devt. Agencies,” but in the case of the Carolinas, they call themselves something different (so please extend my apologies to Tom Brown for the bum info. I gave him during your meeting). Each of these agencies has as their primary mission the attraction of new industry, so as to increase employment, and taxes paid, in the State; but as their secondary priority they are, to a lesser extent, interested in supporting the growth and prosperity of small companies already located in the State … for the same 2 reasons.
South Carolina Department of Commerce, directed by Chuck Bundy 803/737-0400.
They have done a terrific job over the years, especially in attracting large employers to locate in the Greenville/Spartanburg area.
Charlotte Regional PartnershipDirector: Kenny McDonald 704/347-8942
City of Charlotte, NC cooperates with The SC Dept. of Commerce, and York County SC Economic Development Department, right across the State boundary line. The latter is managed by Mark Ferris (803/802-4300) with the City of Charlotte, NC Small Business Development Program
This is an organization sponsored by the North Carolina Department. of Commerce, responsible for supporting small businesses in the 10 NC counties around Charlotte. 704/336-2473.
North Carolina Department of Commerce, Raleigh, NC
The Business & Industry Division is run by Gene Byrd 919/733-4151
Tony McCullough (GRT Electronics — www.grtelectronics.com) added:
NC Small Business and Technology Development Center
http://www.sbtdc.org/technology/funding_sources.asp (Funding Sources List)
http://www.sbtdc.org/technology/sbir.asp (SBIR Information)
Thanks to the folks that contributed to the info above and to making the meeting a success! Working with early-stage startups, and individual inventors, remains a challenge for design firms and consultants. The triangle area benefits economically from these entities, some of which grow into much bigger entities. Supporting the development of new businessess should be a priority that we all share, especially since we all benefit from their success.
Have a great day!
Be sure to check out the NC Product Design Directory!