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On June 20, 2013, the state of West Virginia celebrated its 150th birthday. This milestone comes at a time of economic transition as the state’s traditional mainstay industries — coal and chemicals — are facing to rapidly changing markets. From global trade impacts in the chemicals and materials industries, to technology advancements in the coal industry that has significantly reduced the number of miners employed while producing record tonnage, or to environmental concerns that have impacted the type and cost of coal extraction, the state’s economy in 2013 looks very different than it did 1863.
With a $250,000 grant from EDA in 2011, TechConnectWV, directed the planning and implementation of a regional entrepreneurial/innovation action plan, called StartUpWV, to cover the WV Regional Innovation Cluster's 28 counties. StartUpWV is an integrated initiative designed to expand entrepreneurial and business startup efforts that have helped to create new tech-based jobs in high growth industries in West Virginia.
By the time the EDA grant concluded in May 2014, StartUpWV had leveraged approximately $1.3 million in additional funding from a variety of sources to maintain the project’s reach and impact. During the three year duration of this EDA project, StartUp WV helped create several new statewide programs helping advance tech-based economic development; spearheaded the creation of an innovation coalition that includes 162 entities; provided 146 companies with assistance; helped initiate research, tech transfer, and commercialization programs with 13 colleges and universities; and helped launch the nation’s only chemistry-based business incubator (ChemCeption). The ChemCeption innovation hub supports any technology involving chemistry, traditional and ‘green’, from water to plastics, and biotechnology to energy.