There’s big news in business incubation.
The Allentown Bridgeworks Enterprise Center is expanding its services and the Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania, of which Bridgeworks is a member incubator, is expanding its footprint.
In Allentown, the Bridgeworks hired its first professional consultant; Martin Gilligan of Martin & Associates will be assisting incubator clients with legal issues as an adviser in residence.
With a background in law and engineering, Gilligan can help with a variety of issues without the client having to go pay the legal fees to an outside attorney, said Anthony Durante, Bridgeworks program manager.
“By employing the services of someone like Mr. Gilligan, incubator clients get a solid draft document put together at a reasonable fee that only needs a quick review by a lawyer,” Durante said. “Plus, some of the initial guidance is at no cost since it is part of the services that AEDC provides to its incubator clients.”
Gilligan is on-site once a month and can generally consult with five clients on that day. Durante said incubator clients can also contract with Gilligan outside of the residency program for any extra work.
Durante said he’s hearing from clients that the advice has proved valuable.
“Our company has benefited from the new adviser-in-residence services in several ways,” said Tyson Daniels, president of Polymer Contours Inc. “For instance, we were able to review the integrity of the documents that form the foundation of our customer relationships.
“Additionally, we were able to draft three contracts while seamlessly tying them together with our existing documents, strengthening the fabric of our organization.”
Durante said the manufacturing incubator is now looking at adding other adviser-in-residence consultants in other areas of expertise and hopes to have one or two other professionals signed by year’s end.
MISSION TO EXPAND
The demands for business incubator services are growing strongly, said R. Chadwick Paul, president and CEO of the Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania.
That’s why the Jump Start Incubator in Reading and three others have become members of the partnership, Paul said.
“More and more people are interested in being entrepreneurs,” he said.
That has led more areas in the state to add business, technology and manufacturing incubators to serve those budding businesses.
But finding real estate and renting low-cost office space is the easy part, Paul said. The real value that incubators offer is expertise, and that’s where Ben Franklin is helping, he said.
“They [the incubators] are coming to us to help them understand things like best practices, getting angel investors and group mentoring,” Paul said.
He said the partnership isn’t committing any funds or personnel to the partnership, just that highly valuable expertise.
“We train and mentor the on-site people who created the incubator,” he said.
With the addition of the Reading incubator and the Allan P. Kirby Enterprise Center at Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, the Stourbridge Incubator in Honesdale and The TekRidge Center in Jessup, the partnership has 14 member incubators.
“This is part of our mission, to assist those who are creating the next generation of high-paying jobs,” Paul said.