Conway Innovation Center launches one business, fostering 9 more - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Conway Innovation Center launches one business, fostering 9 more

The Conway Innovation Center opened in January 2015 and has since launched one businesses. The center is also very close to launching a second company. The Conway Innovation Center opened in January 2015 and has since launched one businesses. The center is also very close to launching a second company.
Will Renke is the founder of the Gamma Grip. He's working with the center to perfect his product and business plan before launching. Will Renke is the founder of the Gamma Grip. He's working with the center to perfect his product and business plan before launching.

CONWAY, SC (WMBF) – The Conway Innovation Center opened in January 2015 and has since launched one businesses. The center is also very close to launching a second company.

The executive director for the center, Kevin Shea, says the center is doing above and beyond what leaders were expecting. The goal was to be fostering seven companies this year. The center has nine companies operating out of the center right now, and they have an additional four that are about to get on board. These are companies that are actively working with the innovation center to launch in our area, build jobs, and keep money here.

The center recently launched APPEd Review. It's a company designed to support classroom teachers finding and using apps effectively in their classrooms. That business is now sourcing customers across the country.

Of the nine companies, they're all unique and they range in size. Some are making apps, some are large-scale investment companies, some are in manufacturing, and most rely on technology in some form.

“We have a commitment to drive jobs in our community,” says Shea. “We have a commitment to raise new companies and bring them to the marketplace. And we have the commitment to increase the payroll that is found in our broader community.”

Of these nine businesses, the goal is for two or three to officially launch this year. In three to five years, center leaders believe they will have a $60 million impact to our area, fostering hundreds of jobs. Two business licenses have already been issued for two different companies to operate in town.

The Conway Innovation Center is proving to be successful, but that's only because the companies they are fostering are also proving to be successes, and it's by no means an easy process.

Will Renke is the founder of the Gamma Grip. He's working with the center to perfect his product and business plan before launching. His product will solve a major problem in the booming fitness industry. Renke says one of the biggest issues at a gym is the mess that chalk creates. But using chalk is necessary to get a good grip during your workout. It took a year, but Renke created the Gamma Grip. It has the feel of chalk to keep your hands dry, but it doesn't leave any residue behind.

He got in touch with the CIC in January. Since then, with the center's help and resources, his product has gone through clinical trials, patents, business plans, market testing, and much more.

“Come with an open mind,” advises Renke to anyone looking to get involved with the CIC. “Accept criticism, accept advice very willingly and openly. Because unfortunately, no matter what you think about your own business, you don't know everything. And a group of people that know a lot more than you. And you will learn from them.”

CIC has given Renke the push to prove that the Gamma Grip is a good product and it will sell. The goal is to launch the company in the late third quarter in a small marketplace and grow from there.

The Conway Innovation Center has gained a lot of local support over the past six months, including the support of the City of Conway, the city's Mayor, and Coastal Carolina University. CCU's schools of business, science, and arts have been especially helpful for the center and each of the nine companies involved. Interns from the different schools are working on everything from scientific research, to graphic design, to marketing plans.

Clemson Technology Village and the Department of Commerce have also been a major supporter of the center, helping with research and funding.

Leaders fully expect to expand their opportunities this year and into 2016. There will be an open house on October 14 that will be open to the public to come and pitch new business ideas.

Copyright 2015 WMBF News. All rights reserved.

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