UC’s 1819 Innovation Hub nurtures startups

Program helps entrepreneurs from inspiration to business entity

When someone has a great idea for a business, what comes next? There’s a big leap between inspiration and business formation, and prospective entrepreneurs don’t always know how to bridge that gap. 

That’s where the Venture Lab comes into play. Located within the 1819 Innovation Hub — the nerve center of the Cincinnati Innovation District — the Venture Lab provides resources and mentoring to help innovators launch scalable startups. 

242 teams and counting

Since 2018, the Venture Lab has assisted 242 teams through its pre-accelerator program, an eight-week course that explores the commercial potential of products and services. The latest pre-accelerator cohort of 13 teams began on Jan. 10. 

“A key element to our program’s success is relationships built between new entrepreneurs and businesspeople who have previously experienced the bumps of building a startup,” wrote Elizabeth Wetzel, Venture Lab program manager, in an op-ed that appeared in the Dec. 15-22, 2022, issue of the Cincinnati Business Courier. 

“These mentors ask important questions and bring unique insight and connections. Entrepreneurs-in-residence (EIR) are also on the lookout for promising ideas they want to help bring to market. EIRs have gone on to join more than 50 teams in our accelerator to launch successful startups.”

How it works

During week one, teams give a brief overview of their idea and what they hope to accomplish through the program. Over the next few sessions, participants explore various aspects of business development, including customers, the market, competition, value propositions and storytelling. During week eight, graduation day, teams give a formal pitch presentation to the local startup community. 

The most promising teams are invited to participate in an accelerator program to take their business idea to the next level.

“Once entrepreneurs have graduated and received support through our accelerator, they are much better positioned to attract additional grant funding, angel investors, venture capital and customer revenue,” Wetzel wrote. “The UC Venture Lab provides much needed, early-stage support to feed the Midwest’s startup ecosystem.”

Apply now

Have an idea for a business? The next pre-accelerator program will be coming this spring. Apply through the Venture Lab website

Featured image: Claudia Rebola, associate dean for research in the College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning (DAAP) and an associate professor in the industrial design program, presents at a Venture Lab graduation. Photo by Andrew Higley/UC Marketing + Brand

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