Delaware Innovation Space unveils new $6M growth space for startups

The Delaware Innovation Space (DISI), Wilmington DE, formally opened a new $6M lab space for early stage science companies at an event with over 120 attendees last Friday, September 13th.  Federal, Academic, Business & Delaware State leaders in attendance spoke about the importance of startup companies for today’s economy along with the importance of supportive state and federal policies that provide resources needed to lift startups from formation & proof of concept to becoming growth businesses.   

DISI CEO & President, Bill Provine kicked off the event by expressing excitement in the completion of enhancements to DISI. “We have transformed a building originally built for one company, the DuPont Merck joint venture, and have created what you see here today – a highly interactive, collaborative, and supportive environment for many startup companies,”  said Provine.  According to Provine, the renovation enhances the ability of DISI to grow and scale these companies, potentially into the next large scale employers like a DuPont, Agilent, Gore, or Incyte.  In particular, he spoke to building “companies that will last for generations and ultimately employ thousands of employees and will be future cornerstones of our community.” 

Assistant Secretary of US Dept of Commerce and head of Economic Development Administration (EDA), Dr. John Fleming spoke about the importance of driving growth of local economies and job creation. “What has lifted mankind the most over time has been innovation and increased productivity, and America does that best,” Fleming said enthusiastically, “and this is the best of America.” The EDA provided $3M in funding to create the new private lab pods & collaboration spaces to give early-stage science companies with the tools and capabilities to startup and scale-up into successful businesses. 

U.S. Senator, Tom Carper spoke to the importance of adaptable startups in today’s world in saying “the world has changed, and we have to be able to be nimble and to change as well. And, this building and the folks that are in here and starting businesses and growing here are the face of change.”  Delaware Governor, John Carney echoed Carper’s comments by proclaiming that “new discoveries, new jobs, and new businesses are more likely to spin out of a facility like this than to be driven by some of our bigger corporate citizens in our state.”  According to Provine, since launching 2 years ago, DISI programs have actively supported over 30 companies, which enabled the growth or retention of over 240 jobs with an average salary of over $100,000 per year, and client startup companies have raised over $120 million dollars in private investment to date. 

 University of Delaware President Dennis Assanis spoke to the importance of entrepreneurship to UD, specifically that it is one of the five priorities of the university. “We take the position very seriously that we have to help transform our economy towards a knowledge based economy and what we’re doing is clearly going in this direction,” said Assanis.  He quickly highlighted two recent success startup success stories, starting with W7 Energy.  W7 is a company focusing on developing advanced fuel cell materials to create price parity with traditional gasoline engines, the company was just awarded over $4 million via Department of Energy’s ARPA-E grant program.  He also spoke about MCET Technologies, a new spin-out from UD which just won a DuPont sponsored competition for free space at DISI for a year.  Assanis spoke that DISI is “going to help our entrepreneurs become more creative, become more successful, and we’re happy to have our students come to the incubator and work with the companies and create a wonderful eco system within our state.” 

 Alexa Dembek, DuPont’s Chief Technology and Sustainability spoke to a critical component of DuPont’s innovation strategy: collaborating with startups. “The reason that’s important today is because we know to stay relevant, we have to rely on partnerships and collaborations in a very different way than we were comfortable with before in the past,” said Dembek.  She continued by mentioning several key decisions she made when accepting the role, specifically in ending a culture of “not invented here”  Dembek explained further, “it’s super important because with that mindset, that means that entrepreneurism, that means collaboration with the state, that means collaboration with the University of Delaware is essential for all of us to win and especially to win in our hometown of Delaware.” 

 During the ceremony, Provine & Assanis highlighted DISI’s FastPass competition, where startups can be awarded up to 1 year of free space at DISI combined with access to DISI’s business building programs & with a $5000 credit for supplies. Currently, DISI is seeking companies that are affiliated with the University of Delaware, either by leveraging technologies developed at UD or consisting of leadership teams with current facility, staff, students or alumni.  Assanis boasted “Don’t underestimate the mighty 150 square feet of incubator space that we’re providing, believe me, here people turn their dreams into reality.” 


Ten small businesses announced as EDGE Grant awardees

WILMINGTON, DE – Ten Delaware small businesses were recognized Wednesday as the awardees of the first-ever EDGE Grants from the state Division of Small Business.

Gov. John Carney and Division Director Damian DeStefano announced the companies at an event at the Carvel State Office Building in Wilmington. The grant recipients, located across the state, represent a variety of industries, including agribusiness, medical devices, food services and apparel. They include woman-owned, minority-owned and veteran-owned businesses.

“Delaware is fortunate to have a vibrant small business community comprised of 25,000 companies that employ more than half of all Delaware workers,” Gov. Carney said. “Through these grants the State of Delaware is helping to support small business owners who take risks to realize their dreams of building companies from the ground up.”

EDGE Grants provide a 3-to1 match for each dollar an eligible business invests on qualified expenses that improve the company’s long-term chances of success.

The state is awarding a total of 10 grants. Five in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) class totaling $500,000 and five in the Entrepreneur class tallying $248,000. The businesses are putting up almost $375,000 in matching funds.

“These grants will assist these creative, driven entrepreneurs get the capital support they need to reach their full potential,” said Secretary of State Jeff Bullock. “They will help the companies grow and level the playing field as they compete against larger, more established businesses.”

The innovative program launched in May and had more than 140 companies apply. Eight finalists were selected in the STEM class and eight in the Entrepreneur class. Five winners in each category were chosen after public presentations before a panel of judges on Aug. 13 and 14 at Del Tech in Dover.

“It was challenging to narrow a field filled with so many great applicants,” said DeStefano. “Over two days our team of judges listened carefully to the presentations, asked thoughtful questions and offered valuable insights and comments.”

The Division of Small Business is currently accepting applications for the second round of EDGE Grants. The deadline to apply is Oct. 11, 2019 at 11:59 p.m.

The recipients are:

STEM class

Avkin (New Castle)

This woman-owned business develops medical simulation equipment to train healthcare professionals. It will use the grant accelerate its efforts to market its products to hospital systems across the U.S.

EZY Venture (Harrington)

This woman-owned business processes industrial hemp and extracts CBD oil. It will use its grant to purchase the equipment it needs to extract and process the oil at scale, helping it to meet the growing demand for this product.

Napigen (Wilmington)

The company is developing a hybrid, non-GMO variety of wheat which may help ease the world’s shortage of the grain. It will use the grant for achieving two milestones critical for launching seed production.

Neurothera (Newark)

The company uses light (photobiomodulation) to treat diseases and injuries affecting the brain. It will use the grant to complete a preliminary study to investigate the technology as a possible treatment for Parkinson’s disease.

W7 Energy (Wilmington)

This spin-out company from the University of Delaware is using a new class of hydroxide exchange membranes to power zero-emission fuel cell electric vehicles. It will use the grant to rent larger laboratory space and market to potential new customers.

Entrepreneur Class

BBD MidAtlantic (Greenville)

This woman-owned business operates a successful blow out-bar in Greenville called Blo Blow Dry Bar. It will use the grant to move to a larger space which will enable it to expand its staff and serve more customers.

entreDonovan Wholesale (Wilmington)

This women-owned company uses 3D technology and digital pattern making to produce custom-made women’s apparel for the workplace. It will use the grant to pursue its national growth strategy.

Grey Fox Capital (Wilmington)

This veteran-owned firm manages a fund which raises money to invest in real estate projects in Opportunity Zones in Delaware. It will use the grant for market analysis, marketing and legal fees.

Impact Graphix and Signs (Seaford)

This woman-owned business installs commercial signs and awnings in southern Delaware and on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. It will use the grant to purchase a second bucket truck to better meet demand for the company’s services.

Tomeka’s Homestyle Eatery (Dover)

This minority- and woman-owned business plans to open a home-style, soul food restaurant in downtown Dover. The owner already sells her food at the city’s weekly farmers market. She will use the grant to help build a commercial kitchen in the downtown building she plans to use for her restaurant.

###

 Media Contact:
Michael Chesney
Director of Communications
Michael.Chesney@delaware.gov
(302) 577-8472 (office)
(302) 943-9508 (mobile)
Michael.chesney@delaware.gov


Governor Carney Announces New Director of Office of Innovation & Improvement

James Simmons III, Brandywine School District’s executive director of secondary education, is a district leader, former principal and teacher

WILMINGTON, Del. – Governor John Carney on Wednesday announced that James Simmons III, who has extensive district and school leadership experience in the Brandywine School District, will take over as Director of the Delaware Department of Education’s Office of Innovation and Improvement.

Simmons starts June 3.

The Wilmington-based office, created in 2017, supports students and educators in Delaware’s neediest schools with a focus on schools in the City of Wilmington.

“We created the Office of Innovation and Improvement to make sure we are on the ground supporting schools with high percentages of low-income and English learner students, and providing additional resources for educators and students in those schools,” said Governor Carney. “We need to make sure that we’re helping all Delaware students get a world-class education, and I’m confident that Jim has the experience and leadership necessary to make a real difference.”

Governor Carney’s Fiscal Year 2020 budget proposal also includes a three-year, $60 million Opportunity Funding initiative to target resources toward disadvantaged Delaware students.

Learn more about Governor Carney’s Opportunity Funding initiative.

“Jim has an impressive career of leadership in one of the state’s top-performing districts. He has the valuable experience and has built both the trust and relationships needed to lead our Office of Innovation and Improvement,” said Dr. Susan Bunting, Secretary of the Delaware Department of Education. “I am delighted that he will be joining our team at the Delaware Department of Education.”

“Our responsibility is to make sure that all Delaware children have access to a high-quality education – including students who may be struggling,” said Simmons. “I look forward to collaborating with educators, building leaders and staff to support students and educators in Wilmington and across the state.”

“This is a fantastic opportunity for Jim,” said Dr. Mark Holodick, Superintendent of the Brandywine School District. “Like his predecessor, Dorrell Green, he will be able to use his skills and knowledge to positively impact even more students – not just in Brandywine School District, but in our neighboring districts and schools as well. While it is hard to lose a dedicated employee with so much history and institutional knowledge, we know that Jim will continue to do great things for students and families in Wilmington. Indeed, he will be an asset to the Department of Education and the Governor’s Office.”

“Jim Simmons is a student-centered, community-minded leader,” said Dorrell Green, Superintendent of the Red Clay Consolidated School District. “He possesses the skill set and collaborative spirit that will help the Department advance the work of the Office of Innovation and Improvement.”

Simmons takes over the role from Dorrell Green, who left the position to become Superintendent of the Red Clay Consolidated School District.

Simmons currently serves as executive director of secondary education in the Brandywine School District. He graduated from Brandywine’s Mt. Pleasant High School before attending West Point Military Academy Prep School. Simmons, who received two appointments to the United States Military Academy at West Point, attended the University of Delaware on a full football scholarship, and earned his undergraduate degree in earth science education. He later earned a Masters of Education in curriculum and instruction from Delaware State University.

Simmons has spent his entire career in Delaware schools, first working as a teacher and football coach at St. Mark’s, Milford, Delcastle and Mt. Pleasant high schools. He moved into his first full-time administrative role in 2003, when he became assistant to the principal at PS duPont Intermediate School in Wilmington. He also served as assistant to the principal at Concord and Mt. Pleasant high schools before becoming Mt. Pleasant’s principal in 2008.

In 2013, Simmons took a district leadership role, serving as Brandywine’s climate and culture leader. He later led Brandywine High School’s leadership for a year before moving to his current position in the district office in June 2015. He also serves as president of the Delaware Principal Academy.

###

 

 


Delaware Angel Investor Tax Credit Applications Now Available

Refundable tax credit to encourage job creation, innovation

WILMINGTON, Del. – Qualified investors and high-tech small businesses can now make use of Delaware’s newest program aimed at encouraging job creation and innovation.

The Delaware Division of Small Business began Thursday accepting certification applications for the Angel Investor Tax Credit (AITC) at www.business.delaware.gov/incentives.

“We are excited to have the Angel Investor program up and running,” said Governor John Carney. “Now the state’s most cutting-edge small businesses can connect with much needed sources of capital investment. The influx of funds Angel Investor will create will help these companies and Delaware’s new economy to grow.”

Once a business or investor has submitted a certification application, the Division begins its review process. In January, certified companies and investors will be able to submit credit allocation requests.

“Angel Investor is a great way for the state to spur economic development and another useful tool for our Division as we work to help small businesses succeed in Delaware,” said Damian DeStefano, Director of the Division of Small Business.

The AITC is a refundable tax credit worth up to 25 percent of the investment in a qualified, Delaware-based company. Those businesses must pay decent wages, employ fewer than 25 people and engage in innovation in one of several areas as its primary business activity. More information on investor and business qualifications is also available at www.business.delaware.gov/incentives.

“Delaware’s new angel investor tax credit is a win/win for high-tech and science start-ups as well as investors. Delaware is home to some of the nation’s most innovative start-ups and now with Delaware’s new Angel Investor Tax Credit, science and high-tech entrepreneurs have even more incentive to choose Delaware to grow their businesses,” said Kurt Foreman, President and CEO of Delaware Prosperity Partnership.

“Growing entrepreneurial startups is a key success factor for the growth of the life sciences industry in Delaware,” said Helen Stimson, President and CEO of Delaware BioScience Association. “Having an Angel Investor Tax Credit program improves our competitiveness for entrepreneurial retention. Coupling the program with our unique technical grant writing support from the SBDC, and Delaware’s very attractive R&D tax credit program creates a strong value proposition for why startups should stay in Delaware.”

###

Related news:
Governor Carney Signs Angel Investor Job Creation and Innovation Act


Governor Carney, Delaware Department of Agriculture Announce Interactive Dashboard

Online tool helps Delawareans understand, visualize farmland preserved in all three counties

DOVER, Del. – Governor John Carney and the Delaware Department of Agriculture announced on Thursday a new, interactive dashboard to help Delawareans better understand farmland preservation.

Delaware’s statewide program made its first round of easement purchases in 1996, and has since preserved 22 percent of New Castle County farmland, 38 percent of Kent County farmland and 16 percent of Sussex County farmland. The Delaware Agricultural Lands Preservation Foundation selects those farms approved for easement purchase using an impartial discounted ranking system that maximizes benefits for taxpayers. The Foundation does not own the land, but rather purchases landowners’ development rights and places a permanent agricultural conservation easement on the property.

The dashboard was released following an easement selection announcement that now preserves more than 127,000 acres of farmland in Delaware. The Delaware Department of Agriculture’s new dashboard creates an interactive experience to help Delawareans see the value of farmland preservation.

“Delaware has a rich farming history and agriculture remains our number one industry,” said Governor Carney. “We’re excited to announce this new, interactive dashboard in order to protect and preserve family farms and to help make them profitable.”

The innovative online dashboard was created through Operations Dashboard for ArcGIS, released by ESRI late last year. The Department is one of the early adopters of the software in the State and in farmland preservation throughout the country. Utilizing real-time data visualization, visitors to the dashboard are able to interact with operational data, see it visually, and gain insight on this round of farmland preservation.

“This new web dashboard helps stakeholders and the public interactively explore our latest round of easement purchases. I hope this increases awareness of the farmland preservation program and provides transparency into how we are spending taxpayer money,” said Jimmy Kroon, DDA GIS Coordinator. “The dashboard also provides stakeholders with quick access to information about preservation activities in specific areas of the state by allowing easement selections data to be filtered by county, legislative district, or watershed.”

Governor Carney’s proposed budget called for $20 million for open space and farmland preservation.

This is the 22nd consecutive year of easement selections by the Delaware Agricultural Lands Preservation Foundation. The Foundation purchased the development rights of 41 farms totaling 3,534 acres, with one farm in New Castle County, thirty in Kent County, and ten in Sussex County preserved. In addition to over 127,000 acres in permanent easements, Delaware’s Aglands Preservation Program has over 45,000 acres of land enrolled in farmland preservation districts. Landowners must first voluntarily enroll their farm into a 10-year preservation district before they can sell an easement.

The Foundation’s Board of Trustees includes representatives from agriculture and state agencies. Trustees are: Bob Garey, chairman; Bill Vanderwende, vice-chairman; L. Allen Messick Jr., treasurer; William H. “Chip” Narvel Jr., secretary; Secretary of Agriculture Michael Scuse; State Treasurer Ken Simpler; Secretary of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Shawn Garvin; Peter Martin; Theodore P. Bobola Jr.; Robert Emerson; and Janice Truitt.

###