October 22, 2013

An Incubator For Framingham?

Courtesy photo
Robert Krim was hired earlier this year to head up Framingham State University's new Entrepreneur Innovation Center, which will launch in January.

Earlier this month, Framingham State University (FSU) announced it will launch its Entrepreneur Innovation Center, creating workspace for area entrepreneurs in the earliest stages of business.

According to Robert Krim, an economics professor hired by FSU to oversee the center, it's essentially an incubator, making it the second to open in MetroWest this year.

Casting A Wide Net

But unlike TechSandBox, an incubator with a narrow focus on technology startups in neighboring Hopkinton, Krim said the Innovation Center is open to a wider array of industries.

"We really are casting a wide net in starting out," Krim said.

With about 1,000 square feet of office space in FSU's Maynard Building, located on the Framingham Town Green, the Innovation Center is designed to accommodate small operations of one or two people. Rather than eyeing potential tenants based on sector, Krim said he's trying to reach four groups of entrepreneurs: people who reside in MetroWest, FSU alumni, those who work at MetroWest companies and are interested in starting their own, and entrepreneurs from local immigrant communities.

FSU and Krim are now marketing the center through the alumni database and media outreach efforts, and Krim said they'll welcome the first tenants when the spring semester begins on Jan. 21. Like most incubators, tenants will pay leasing fees that are manageable for most startups, though Krim declined to reveal how much those leases will cost. He hopes to get a group of eight to 12 entrepreneurs involved in 2014, with the possibility of expansion. FSU may collaborate with the revitalization organization Framingham Downtown Renaissance in the future to offer office space at the Renaissance offices downtown.

Academia Meets Industry

FSU is still feeling out the demand for an incubator of its own, , but Krim hopes it will grow into a thriving center for new business that will help boost the local economy. He said it also poses a great opportunity for FSU students to learn from entrepreneurs.

FSU is planning to create paid internship programs within the Innovation Center, giving students with an interest in running their own businesses a chance to see what it takes to launch a company. Economics professors will also lend their expertise to tenants in need of business advice.

For Krim, the center represents the best of both worlds. He holds an MBA from Boston College and was the founder of a research partnership that focused on innovation drivers in the Greater Boston region and most recently taught social entrepreneurship and organizational behavior at Clark University in Worcester. He made the switch to FSU earlier this year, jumping at the opportunity to launch the Innovation Center while creating a new entrepreneurship concentration within the Department of Economics and Business Administration.

"… I love the fact I'm both teaching and working on trying to make this thing happen," Krim said.


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