LARGO – County officials and the Prince George’s County Economic Develop Corporation (EDC) opened the EDC’s Innovation Station Accelerator in Largo with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Feb. 28.
This space, which is located in the same building as the EDC, will enable entrepreneurs to collaborate with each other, work out of an affordable office space and learn from mentors and industry leaders.
“My vision for the (Innovation Station) is simple,” said Pradeep Ganguly, executive vice president of the EDC. “Give cutting-edge businesses with unique ideas, applications, products and services overwhelming love and support and graduate them quickly.”
At 4,000 square feet, the Innovation Station doubles the size of the EDC’s business accelerator.
The accommodations and resources available through the space include collaborative co-working space, conference rooms, smart boards and private offices, as well as assistance with business growth through one-on-one professional business mentoring, networking events and workshops and staff recruitment assistance.
“The programming is going to be peer networking and helping companies learn from each other at the CEO level and also bringing in partners,” said Alicia Moran, manager of small business development with the EDC.
Pricing ranges from $175/month for use of the general open co-working space , to $600/month for a large, three-person private office. Applications are now being accepted.
The Innovation Station Accelerator will also feature a “Nifty Fifty Federal Contracting” program to help 50 companies secure $1 million in federal contracts. That will include free or paid programming and technical training.
Moran said companies have already begun expressing interest in utilizing the Innovation Station.
“We’ve got the talent, and we’ve got the customers to make any business that wants to start here in Prince George’s County to make them an incredible success,” said Jim Coleman, president and chief executive officer of the EDC.
Interested entrepreneurs and companies must go through an application process to utilize the space. Moran said start-ups between one and three years old with technology-enabled products or services would be prioritized. She emphasized that these companies working in the same space will offer the opportunity for collaboration.
“Because of that diversity and in that mix companies will learn different things from different companies within this space,” Moran said. “It’s all about sharing information and being collaborative. That’s what a collaborative co-working space is all about.”
Moran hopes to see companies utilize the space for six months to a year-and-a-half.
“Our hope is to then take them from here and then out into the county,” she said. “It’s really kind of a process, to start here, and then go out into the community.”
David Iannucci, assistant deputy chief administrative officer for economic development for the county, said one way to grow the region’s economy is by supporting start-ups.
“That’s taking start-up technology companies, emerging companies, and very small businesses and have them go from one person to two people to 10 people, to every now and then it becomes 20 or 100 or 200 or 500,” he said.
The strategic partners for this project include the Technology Development Corporation, Small Business Administration, Maryland Tech Council, Maryland Procurement Technical Assistance Center, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and Maryland Department of Commerce. All of these organizations except Small Business Administration and the Maryland Tech Council will provide office hours.
“We have a big tent here at the Innovation Station. That is what it’s all about,” Moran said. “Where entrepreneurs and inventors can come and learn from their peers and actually network and learn from mentors. We’re going to provide access to clients, capital, and customers.”
International and out-of-state businesses can also become members so they can utilize the space when they are in Prince George’s County.
“At Innovation Station, we’re really here to bring to bear the resources and tools you need to succeed and grow,” Moran said.