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Erie ID collaborations to enhance small businesses

Kristian Biega, Staff writer

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The Erie Innovation District has announced a new collaboration in its efforts to breathe new life into downtown Erie by means of improving education, technology and economic opportunities.
The district announced its collaboration with Singularity University to create a 10-week accelerator program to help entrepreneurs create successful start-up businesses. In the hopes of advancing these accelerator programs, the district also has partnered with Dell EMC.

Mercyhurst is a partner in Erie Innovation District, or Erie ID for short.

The role of the Erie ID accelerators is to sponsor and encourage business and technology startups to create more job opportunities for the people of Erie. An accelerator program is a faster way to help foster this growth of businesses through hands-on guidance and resources.

“The intention behind these accelerators is for businesses to go in and then graduate,” said Karl Sancheck, chief executive of the Eie ID. “To make improvements and gain insights as to what your business needs to be more effective. It is a more rounded education.”

Some companies receive incubation for one to five years in this learning phase, but accelerators are a more concentrated program that hope to give companies the means to move on individually. This 10-week accelerator program will bring together 10 companies as one cohort to be mentored and trained in workshop settings from July to September.

Singularity University is a Silicon Valley company with a long-standing reputation for creating a future in high-end technologies such as artificial intelligence. Sancheck’s goal is to turn Erie’s “rust-belt” reputation into a place of competitive cyber and data services.

“It is exciting for Erie to have this collaboration,” said Sancheck. “The dual marketing release of the accelerator program in Erie and throughout branding and research in Silicon Valley will have a global outreach effect. It will provide experience, knowledge of advances technology and a huge mentor network.”

As the age of interconnectedness through technology only grows, Erie ID’s intentions with the accelerator and partnerships are to improve cyber security in connected products, devices and systems across the country. This involves looking into the current state of products and finding the strengths and weaknesses of these products and ways to reduce future security risks.

The sponsorship from Dell that began in October 2017 will bring competitive new software, development, a clean workspace and Cloud publishing capabilities to the district to help with the efficiency of the projects.

The companies that Sancheck and his team are seeking to participate in the accelerator are startup businesses that already have a prototype and proof of concept as well as an initial test market or customer in mind as a means of evaluating the effectiveness of the product or service.

There is also preference given to those businesses that have a desire to make Erie their home market for development and business so as to continue to grow the city’s job opportunities and economy.

“We want people to think of Erie as a destination for cyber and connected services and a vibrant startup community that is focused in that area,” Sancheck said.

The Erie ID also notes that local organizations like Mercyhurst University are a key component in the technological advancements and business and job stimulation that continues to grow over the years.

“Mercyhurst has been a huge champion for the Erie Innovation District in designing a lot of its new programs that will ultimately come out of the district as jobs,” said Sancheck. “The students Mercyhurst graduates each year are the exact kind of people we are looking for for these types of jobs.”

Sancheck is hopeful that these new opportunities with Dell and the accelerator program are a step forward for technology and innovation in Erie.

“This partnership is a means for companies working in that space to get products and services brought to market. It has profound implications for the future,” Sancheck said.

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