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Dayton Opens First RFID Company Incubator

The Dayton RFID Convergence Center is believed to be the first business incubator for RFID companies. The 46,000 square foot facility will house small RFID firms and offer them a variety of technical and business services.
May 18, 2009This article was originally published by RFID Update.

May 18, 2009—The first business incubator solely dedicated to RFID companies formally began operations last week in Dayton, Ohio. The Dayton RFID Convergence Center is a publicly funded program led by the city government that will provide office and laboratory space, business services and other support to early stage RFID companies. Three companies applied to become part of the center within the first 48 hours after it was announced last week, executive director Brad Proctor told RFID Update.

"We've put together a network of resources in the community that can provide assistance to RFID companies in a lot of areas," Proctor said. "We've done a lot of research and looked at programs all over the country during the more than two years we've been working on this program, and we haven't found anything like it in the RFID industry."

The center has 46,000 square feet of office and laboratory space in an $8 million new building. The building is the first of 10 that the city plans to build as part of its new Dayton Tech Town technology park. The Dayton RFID Convergence Center can house approximately 15 to 20 companies and provides shared labs, conference rooms and administrative support. Program participants can also receive consulting and mentoring for business plan development, funding pursuit and general business management, marketing assistance, help with commercializing technology developments, and other services.

Participation is open to hardware and software companies. A prototypical participant would be a company with a handful of employees whose products are still 12 to 18 months away from being ready for market, but Proctor said many types of companies could be eligible.

"Our funnel is a little wider today that it might be a year to a year and a half from now," he said. "We're looking to find RFID entrepreneurs who are focused on developing business solutions."

The City of Dayton worked with CityWide Development and Business Cluster Development to create the program. Business Cluster Development has created more than 50 incubator programs around the country, and CityWide Development is a Dayton-area development agency that is a partner in the project. The effort began in 2007 (see Dayton, Ohio Investing $1.4M to Support RFID Firms) and has received millions in funding from city, state and federal sources.

Organizers have identified approximately 45 RFID-related companies in the Dayton area, which includes nearby Cincinnati. In addition to small firms that are candidates for the incubator, the area has several large RFID users, vendors and researchers, including Procter & Gamble, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Alien Technology, Avery Dennison and Wright State University.

"The gem of the area is Wright-Patterson Air Force Base," Proctor said. "People think of it as an air force base, but it is really a major military logistics center." He added that some of the military's top logistics technology personnel work at the base, including Marc Reboulet, a past recipient of the Percival Award which is given by AIM Global to technology end users for outstanding contributions to the application of automatic identification and data capture (AIDC) technologies.

The center plans to announce new collaborative relationships soon and hopes to announce its first tenants later this year. Application information is available here.
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