e-Merge @ the Garage, a new accelerator/incubator located in the heart of beautiful Upstate South Carolina, has just opened up applications for their first cohort. The Anderson, SC public-private collaboration draws it name from its location, e-Merge is currently being built inside of a downtown parking garage:
e-Merge @ the Garage is part of a large trend that has developed in South Carolina over the past few years. In 2013, the South Carolina Department of Commerce released the “South Carolina Innovation Plan.”1 The report took a long hard look at the state of the innovation economy within South Carolina, and its findings indicated that a change was desperately needed. The report found that while the state has been successful at recruiting and retaining large companies – companies like Michelin, BMW, Boeing – it had not been successful in fostering and developing a favorable environment for high-growth-potential startups and technology firms. Specifically, the report noted that the startups had extremely limited access to capital and a weak managerial and technical talent pipeline. The report recommended several initiatives to develop the innovation economy. The first if these was to launch the Office of Innovation, through which all the initiatives would be funneled. The Office of Innovation is tasked with four main goals:
- Develop a critical mass of high tech, high impact companies.
- Grow a supportive, connected innovation community.
- Support access to capital for companies at all stages of development.
- Grow workforce talent equipped to work for high tech/high impact companies2
In pursuit of these goals, the Office of Innovation handed out $2.4M in grants to support entrepreneurship in 2014, and just finished handing out $2.6M for this year. Of these grants, e-Merge @ the Garage was awarded $750,000. With the funding secured, and the facilities nearing completion, e-Merge @ the Garage has begun accepting applications for their Start up Boot Camp. The Boot Camp is a incubator-accelerator hybrid type program, focusing on early-stage companies:
The e-Merge at the Garage program is designed to introduce business concepts to a rigorous curriculum led by local and regional successful mentor entrepreneurs. These mentors will assist the start up teams throughout the 12 week program to stay focused on the critical elements needed to grow their business. At the end of the program, the starts ups know what is needed to take the next step and are introduced to capital resources to help them grow.3
Applications will be accepted until May, with the first cohort beginning in June. Head over to the e-Merge website for more information and to apply.