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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

Old Dominion University and City of Norfolk Launch Entrepreneurial Innovation Center in Downtown Norfolk

By Brendan O'Hallarn

Gov. Terry McAuliffe will join Old Dominion University President John R. Broderick and Norfolk Mayor Kenny Alexander at a ceremonial ribbon-cutting and dedication July 20 for the Old Dominion University Innovation Center - Norfolk at 501B Boush St. in downtown Norfolk.

The Old Dominion University Innovation Center, created through a partnership between ODU's Center for Enterprise Innovation (CEI) and the City of Norfolk, provides area entrepreneurs with collaboration space and a comprehensive program of services designed to grow a community of scalable entrepreneurial businesses within Norfolk's Innovation Corridor. The broad spectrum of available services ensures the center will remain a unique and valuable resource to startup companies throughout the Hampton Roads region.

The ceremony, which will include a keynote address by McAuliffe, a longtime advocate of entrepreneurism, will take place at 11 a.m. Remarks will also be delivered by Old Dominion's president, John R. Broderick, and David Kern, CEO of International Software Sales LLC. The event will be streamed live on Facebook and tweeted at #ODUinnovate.

International Software Sales LLC is one of three companies currently receiving support services at the ODU Innovation Center - Norfolk. The others are DayWon, a software app intended to make Google programs more user-friendly; and Track Patch, a medical services product for Alzheimer patients and their families.

Old Dominion President John R. Broderick and Chief Operating Officer David F. Harnage developed the Innovation Center's concept and worked with the City of Norfolk and several other Hampton Roads cities to leverage expertise at the University to grow economic development across the region.

"We are eager to use our strengths to actively engage entrepreneurs, the future job creators of our region," Harnage said. "The ODU Innovation Center - Norfolk will help fuse the campus and Norfolk community, and provide a dedicated downtown location where we can offer business startup training, mentorship and space for entrepreneurs to innovate."

In addition to Gov. McAuliffe, President Broderick and Mayor Alexander, COO Harnage will participate in the ribbon-cutting along with Marty Kaszubowski, executive director of Old Dominion's Center for Enterprise Innovation (CEI); Norfolk City Manager Marcus Jones; and Nancy Grden, executive director of the University's Strome Entrepreneurial Center.

"Norfolk is honored to host ODU's first Innovation Center in the region," Marcus Jones said. "Norfolk is committed to providing a strong and supportive ecosystem for entrepreneurs. We have proven that through the many partnership efforts we have launched over the past several years. The results of these efforts have produced access to mentors, capital and real estate for new and expanding companies."

Kaszubowski said the center represents a good first step in the broader mission to extend ODU's presence further into the expanding entrepreneurial community in Norfolk and the Hampton Roads region.

"We're especially pleased to partner with the City of Norfolk, anchoring its growing Innovation Corridor, close to the NEON arts district and among a growing critical mass of like-minded companies and organizations that spur entrepreneurism," Kaszubowski said.

The ODU Innovation Center - Norfolk delivers a range of professionally managed mentoring, incubation and acceleration support to high-potential startup companies, as well as flexible and affordable co-working space for freelancers, telecommuters and anyone seeking to join and contribute to the booming downtown start-up community.

Because of its affiliation with the CEI, the center will offer additional technical and business mentoring resources to the community, including direct connections to other CEI programs such as the Hampton Roads Veterans Business Outreach Center, the Women's Business Center, the Technology Applications Center and GOV2COM, which aims to help government contractors diversify into commercial markets.

The ODU Innovation Center - Norfolk will also be an extension of programs offered by the University's Strome Entrepreneurial Center and the College of Continuing Education and Professional Development. It will be a place where Old Dominion students, faculty and alumni can gather to build relationships with local businesses, staff members of the city's Department of Economic Development and like-minded students and faculty from partner institutions.

The Center for Enterprise Innovation was created in 2014 to accelerate the University's decades-long work of connecting the campus to the community, helping Old Dominion play its pivotal role as an economic engine for the region. The university's economic impact on Hampton Roads exceeds $2.1 billion a year.

The CEI builds on the evolving models of business incubation, acceleration and partnership to help companies at all stages of development. For more information about CEI, and about the ODU Innovation Center - Norfolk, see the Center for Enterprise Innovation website.

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