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Business Development

Max E. Summers, interim program director and associate dean, entrepreneurship and economic development, College of Engineering
missouribusiness.net


During the year, the Business Development program (BDP) helped clients

  • start 249 new businesses,
  • create or retain 7,473 jobs,
  • increase sales valued at more than $235 million,
  • acquire more than $199 million in new financing for their companies,
  • pursue investment efforts in research and commercialization leading to $4.3 million in research grant awards, and
  • win 2,814 local, state and federal government contracts totaling more than $191.5 million.
photo: Columbia entreprenuers

Drs. Katy and Brian Thompson, researchers, business partners and husband-wife team review research in their lab at the MU Life Sciences Business Incubator in Columbia. The Thompsons contacted the Small Business Technology and Development Center at MU's College of Engineering for help with the business startup and licensing agreements for their company, Elemental Enzymes Inc. in Columbia. The company designs enzymes to remove pesticides, heavy metals, pharmaceutical residues and remnants of explosive compounds, among other applications.

The program's statewide impact included business counseling to 3,096 clients/companies, business training and conference programming to 14,111 participants, and more than 5.36 million website page views.

In 2012, the BDP focused on the concept of the entrepreneurial pipeline, a strategy based on the work of small-business researchers Tom Lyons and Gregg Lichtenstein in their book Investing in Entrepreneurs. In the pipeline, entrepreneurs are distinguished by their skill levels, and businesses are segmented by their stage of development in the business life cycle. Putting the two dimensions together allows a community to map its entrepreneurial assets and determine both the quantity and quality of the business ventures it hopes to cultivate. The needs of entrepreneurs and enterprises in each segment of the pipeline are different, as are the services and the infrastructure necessary to support them. Movement through the pipeline requires a transformation, either in the skill level of the entrepreneur or in the evolution of the business to the next stage in its life cycle.

An outgrowth of this strategy has been the formation of subject-matter teams to assess the needs of entrepreneurs in various stages of the pipeline and to identify products and services that can be offered by the BDP to address those needs. Team topics include domestic marketing, international marketing, government marketing, financial management, energy and environmental issues, coaching and management. This drives the BDP to find solutions for established and more sophisticated companies where greater numbers of jobs are created.

An example of team activity is the Business Growth Services program, designed to help companies poised for growth to find new markets and develop new product lines. This team focuses on growing locally owned companies through an entrepreneur-centered strategy. The BGS team focuses on second-stage companies - those firms that are established, have expanded beyond the startup phase, and are poised for growth.

In 2012, the MU-based SBTDC relocated two members of its staff to a new office in downtown Columbia. The move forges a stronger partnership between the SBTDC and central Missouri's Regional Economic Development Inc.