Northeast Ohio one of seven regions across the country awarded $385,000 Regional Innovation Cluster Contract
October 18, 2012 – NorTech has been awarded one of seven Regional Innovation Cluster contracts from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) in the amount of $385,000 to support the advancement of FlexMatters®, the flexible electronics cluster in Northeast Ohio. The cluster consists of businesses, suppliers, service providers and institutions focused on advanced manufacturing of flexible electronic devices and materials. The award is for one year with a four year renewal option.
NorTech will apply the funding from the award to train and assist small companies in Northeast Ohio on engaging market-leading companies to become anchor customers. The training - called the Anchor Customer Engagement (ACE) Academy - will assist small businesses in the FlexMatters cluster in enhancing their skills to identify, access and capture market-leaders as first customers, thereby accelerating market entries and job creation. The ACE Academy will utilize NorTech's industry experts and its partnerships with Jumpstart and the SBA centers serving businesses in Northeast Ohio.
"Anchor customers are key to the success of small businesses because they provide credibility through the first substantial orders, which in turn triggers purchases from additional companies," said Rebecca O. Bagley, president and CEO of NorTech. "We are honored to receive the SBA Regional Innovation Cluster contract and look forward to working with our regional partners to provide small businesses with the skills, tools and experience to capture anchor customers to grow their business."
ACE Academy training will focus on: developing a compelling and accurate value proposition; conducting effective market research and analysis; soliciting feedback directly from potential customers; and identifying and capturing high-potential opportunities. Custom training and assistance will be tailored to help small businesses fill resource gaps related to funding, business or technology planning, supply chain or project teaming issues.
NorTech is a regional nonprofit technology-based economic development organization serving 21 counties in Northeast Ohio. As a catalyst for growing Northeast Ohio's emerging technology industries, NorTech is leading efforts to develop regional innovation clusters that create jobs, attract capital and have a long-term, positive economic impact. The FlexMatters flexible electronics cluster in Northeast Ohio has over 50 organizational members and is developing innovative technologies in multiple applications in five key markets: aerospace & defense, consumables, commercial and consumer electronics, and bioflex.