Co-working, networking facility offers innovators work space, mentoring and training
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Oct. 9, 2012) – A vacant building has been transformed into the iHub, an inexpensive space for entrepreneurs and start-up companies to set up shop and share ideas with their peers.
The building officially was opened today at a ceremony attended by University of Louisville President James Ramsey, Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and Congressman John Yarmuth.
The iHub offers co-working space, meeting rooms and training for very-early-stage companies where entrepreneurs can interact and network with their peers – and possibly form collaborations and new businesses. Located on property owned by Nucleus, the life sciences innovation center and economic development arm of the University of Louisville Foundation, the iHub hopes to help some iHub users grow to where they and their companies can move into a larger Nucleus business incubator building, such as the $18 million, eight-story facility now under construction just across the street from the iHub, on the former Haymarket site.
“The iHub will foster entrepreneurs and innovation. It also will give UofL faculty the chance to rub elbows with other creative people as they explore new ideas, develop their inventions and get them to the marketplace,” Ramsey said.
Nucleus bought the building at 204 S. Floyd St. and renovated it into 2,200 square feet of collaborative working space for innovators who don’t want or need a large office. iHub spaces are $80 per month.
“Innovation and collaboration are vital to Kentucky’s economic future, and these early-stage entrepreneurs can thrive in the right environment,” Beshear said. “The iHub provides a place where some of Kentucky’s best and most innovative can work, network and form relationships that will help their businesses succeed and grow, which translates into more jobs for Kentuckians.”
There are almost 1,800 co-working spaces worldwide, with nearly 700 in the U.S. alone, according to a global co-working survey by DeskMag magazine. The rapid rise of co-working spaces is driven by many factors, including technologies such as cloud computing that helps workers access files from anywhere that has an internet connection; more freelancers, women and caregivers in the workforce seeking more flexible work arrangements; and economic pressures on growing companies needing to provide offices for workers.
“Nucleus and the University of Louisville understand the importance of fostering entrepreneurs and innovation,” said Vickie Yates Brown, Nucleus president and CEO. “The iHub is one more way we’re doing that by providing co-working space where independent contractors, freelancers, telecommuters, and other business people can access an alternative professional work environment outside their regular offices, homes and local coffee houses.”
The iHub not only caters to independent workers, but can also provide complementary and supportive work spaces for out-of-town company personnel traveling to Louisville and for local companies who want their staff to interact with employees outside their own sphere, to broaden their perspective and bring new ideas back to their employers.
Plans are for the iHub to offer a full calendar of events, such as classes, workshops and mentoring sessions. The first of these is the FastTrac TechVenture program, currently being taught to technology and life science entrepreneurs who signed up for the classes. Developed by the Kauffman Foundation, the largest American foundation focused on entrepreneurship, the “mini-MBA” program covers a wide range of topics, provides intensive coaching, and helps connect entrepreneurs with the local innovation ecosystem.