2012-04-13 / Business

Midlands economic developer leads innovative start up program

Greg Hilton Greg Hilton Entrepreneur and economic developer Greg Hilton has been named executive director of the Midlands Center for Entrepreneurial and Technological Innovation ( CETI). CETI is a collaboration between the USC/Columbia Technology Incubator and USC Innovista. The start up center will focus on providing a one- stop destination for all things entrepreneurial. Hilton and his team will develop a wide range of educational programs and customized resources for entrepreneurs preparing to launch technology and innovation driven startups. The Center will be a launching pad and a hub for techdriven, high growth start up businesses and job creation.

CETI will be housed and managed by the USC/Columbia Technology Incubator, which has been a magnet for start up companies since its inception in 1998. Executive Director Ron Loewen managed the recruitment process. “We went through an extensive national and international search. We were pleased with the number and quality of the applicants. Greg was a perfect fit. His passion for entrepreneurial education and job creation, his previous start up activities, his deep network of local/ regional/national contacts, his impressive body of work, his boundless energy and natural leadership skills position Greg to hit the ground running. We’re creating some real synergy here with the Incubator and CETI...synergy that we believe will help catalyze a new generation of startups in the region.”

“We have an incredible wellspring of innovation and new technology emanating from the university’s research activities. This is an opportunity to accelerate the creation and growth of new start ups, leveraging that wellspring, while working to build a world class ( and homegrown) start up community throughout the entire region,” noted Greg Hilton, the center’s new executive director.

Hilton is a Liberty Scholars Fellow and magna cum laude graduate of the nationally ranked MIBS/ IMBA program at the Moore School of Business and also holds degrees in environmental science and Spanish from the University of North Carolina; with distinction. Hilton’s recent experience includes serving in management roles for EngenuitySC, a public/ private partnership formed to develop and grow Columbia’s knowledge economy; New Carolina, South Carolina’s Council on Competitiveness; and ECI, a market development and research firm helping small companies find new markets. He’s counseled over 100 startups, managed over $10 million in federally funded economic development work, and has lived or worked in several Latin American countries. Greg has also been a founder or investor in several real estate, import/ export, and technology. start ups

Hilton’s mandate will be to find and develop promising technology start up companies. He and his staff will connect start up companies with the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. CETI will draw on the resources of the University of South Carolina, the Darla Moore School of Business and USC/ Columbia Technology Incubator in the fields of assessment, mentoring, coaching, business forma- tion, legal and intellectual property, marketing and sales, finance, accounting, funding and human resources. Entrepreneurial competitions and special events will be presented as well.

CETI will serve USC students, faculty, staff, alumni, and the Midlands’ regional start up community.

Don Herriott, director of Innovista Partnerships, who led the University effort to establish CETI, stated, “The essence of Innovista is not buildings or physical infrastructure; it is the talent, knowledge and expertise that exists within the University and our ability to connect that into the market place. Greg’s hiring will add to the significant investment in innovation that the University is making to grow the knowledge economy in the Midlands and across the state of South Carolina.”

About the USC/ Columbia Technology Incubator: The USC / Columbia Technology Incubator is a non-profit corporation supported by USC, the City of Columbia and area governments which is materially supported by businesses and private donors. Since its inception in November 1998, the Incubator has provided opportunities for entrepreneurs to commercialize their ideas, produced successful, financially viable and freestanding businesses, and created hundreds of additional jobs in the community. We want high- tech, highgrowth companies that can benefit from all the Incubator partners including: University of South Carolina and Midlands Technical College with its manufacturing startup facilities. The Incubator is currently home to 31 resident startups.

About USC Innovista: Innovista is a strategic economic development effort that is connecting USC and university-spawned innovations with entrepreneurs, businesses and stakeholders. Its purpose is to help attract and create t e chnology- int ens i ve, knowledge-based companies, which will result in higher- paying jobs and raise the standard of living in South Carolina.

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