|Center for Innovation receives Soft Landings International Incubator designation|
The Center for Innovation's two technology incubators have been granted designation as a ‘Soft Landings International Incubator’ from the National Business Incubation Association. Randy Morris, NBIA’s director of membership says, "The Soft Landings designation recognizes outstanding incubators that focus on welcoming non-domestic firms into its domestic market with entrepreneur services, help cutting through governmental red tape, access to capital, domestic market research and demonstrated success in helping firms enter the US market. The designation identifies incubators that provide a ‘soft landing’ to international firms wishing to expand into new markets.”
The Center for Innovation has been working with international clients since 1992 to bring international ventures into the U.S. market by developing export entry plans, conducting market research, locating distribution, manufacturing and development partners and providing a reputable base of operations in the incubator. The Center has partnered with numerous foreign and domestic agencies, most notably entrepreneur centers in Canada and Norway and developing close working relationships with the Royal Norwegian Consulate and Canadian Consulate, both of which sponsor foreign expansion and trade initiatives at the Center for Innovation. In addition, a branch office of the North Dakota Trade Office is located at the Ina Mae Rude Entrepreneur Center, offering in-house international expertise and networks.
“It’s a terrific honor to be one of only six incubators world-wide to be recognized with the Soft Landings designation in 2006, and only eight that have ever received the designation worldwide,” said Bruce Gjovig, director and entrepreneur coach at the Center for Innovation. “I was shocked there were only eight incubators recognized out of 5,000 business incubators worldwide by NBIA, and only three incubators in the United States. I assumed there would be more. We are more on the leading edge in globalizing incubator operations than realized. Tech companies are positioning themselves at an earlier stage to sell internationally, and we need to be prepared and well networked.”
Steinar Opstad, a retired business and communications executive of Sarpsborg, Norway, observed, “Several Norwegian delegations have visited the Center for Innovation over the last decade to learn best practices for entrepreneur centers and incubators. Bruce has visited several communities in Norway to share his expertise. This designation recognizes the high standing he has in Norway. Sarpsborg is developing Campus Borg with a tech park, incubator facilities with an entrepreneur center, and college facilities based the Center for Innovation model.” Opstad has been visiting with Gjovig and others in the Greater Grand Forks area the past couple of weeks. Opstad is the founder of the American College of Norway and retired executive with the Confederation of Norwegian Business and Industry.
Gjovig added, “This designation will let international clients know about our venturing expertise, international offerings and our ability to provide a “soft landing.” We have a proven track record of working with international clients and can offer expertise as companies enter the US market. This designation not only recognizes our expertise, but also sends a message to international entrepreneurs that are looking for a good place to get started in the U.S. market.”
One of the greatest benefits to an international company locating in an incubator is the ability to grow into a presence on U.S. soil without having to go through many of the capital-intensive acquisitions involved with opening a new location. The incubator offers turn key office and lab space for early stage ventures as well as entrepreneur assistance. Companies benefit from collocating with other entrepreneurs and accessing a network of nationwide entrepreneur-minded contacts that have been established over the past 20 years. Some clients also utilize a variety of resources from the University of North Dakota, most often strong talent. Through funding from the Norwegian Consulate General, over 20 Norwegian students have served in internships working with Norwegian companies interested in expanding into U.S. markets, or American companies interested in European markets.