HCDC to host its first startup Business Showcase and Innovation Village

Business incubator and economic development corporation HCDC is hosting its first Business Showcase and Innovation Village March 15 at Xavier University’s Cintas Center.
The event will be an opportunity for residents in HCDC’s Business Center startup incubator to display and tell their story to an audience of over 300 people representing sectors of the community ranging from the business world to local universities.
Business Center Director Pat Longo explains that the Showcase is an opportunity for the companies to tell their story and make connections in the community as well as for the public to learn more about the work HCDC does. He says the idea came about after bringing on two new business mentors who subsequently told him how much they’d learned about the organization’s work in such a short time.
“They said, ‘We thought we knew what the Business Center was about, but we need to give these companies an opportunity for Greater Cincinnati to know what they’re doing,’” he says.
Only a few of the HCDC Business Center residents will be able to show off their work at this event, however. The organization had an internal competition to select 10 companies to give full pitches at the showcase, while an additional 30 startups will man display tables in the “Innovation Village.”
The exclusivity is a matter of space and practicality — with 72 startup companies currently in its program, HCDC is the region’s largest incubator.

Norwood-based HCDC also operates slightly differently than most other accelerators and incubators in the area, which is partly why it’s never hosted a showcase before.
While The Brandery, UpTech, Ocean, First Batch and Mortar take in several startups together as a class and “graduate” them together with a culminating pitch or demo event, HCDC both accepts and graduates startups on a rolling basis. The organization is able to meet the needs of a variety of types of new businesses, then — while entrepreneurs launching an app might only need a year or two to get off the ground, a biotech company commercializing a tangible product might stay in the incubator for four years or more.
Longo is proud of this diversity of businesses in HCDC’s portfolio, which he says will be visible at the Showcase among the startups giving pitches as well as those in the Innovation Village.
“The idea of technology commercialization is alive and well at HCDC,” Longo says. “Seeing these nascent ideas percolate, I hope that people will see what’s going on and say, ‘I can’t believe that’s happening here!’”
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