Phase Zero helps emerging businesses compete

Martin Abraham, dean of YSU's STEM College talks about Phase Zero and how it could help connect the business community with academia.

Martin Abraham, dean of the YSU STEM College, talks with reporters after a news conference announcing the new Youngstown Phase Zero program.

Youngstown State University and the Youngstown Business Incubator are partnering to create Youngstown Phase Zero, a program to help local entrepreneurs and emerging businesses better compete for federal and state grants.

Under the program, technology-based start-up and small businesses can receive up to $5,000 for data gathering, lab testing, research, analysis and other reasonable expenses incurred to pay for the necessary preliminary work in applying for government grants that will help them develop new products for commercialization.

“The result will be that these businesses will be able to prepare higher quality grant proposals that will greatly improve their chances of receiving the federal and state funding that is crucial for them to move forward with the development of their new products,” said Peter Kasvinsky, dean of the YSU College of Graduate Studies and Research.

Youngstown Phase Zero is administered by YSU in collaboration with the YSU College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics; YSU School of Graduate Studies and Research; and YBI. The Raymond John Wean Foundation, as well as YSU Graduate Studies and Research and STEM, fund the program.

“These kinds of partnerships are absolutely crucial to diversifying our local economy and spurring the development of new products, processes and technologies in the Mahoning Valley,” said Barb Ewing, YBI chief operating officer. “We hope that local businesses will take advantage of this resource as they look to become more competitive in the world economy.”

“We are proud to support an initiative that will continue the transformation of our local economy from traditional manufacturing into high tech industries,” said Jeffrey M. Glebocki, Wean Foundation president. “YSU and YBI have formed this program that will help small firms compete in an increasingly complex global economy.”

YSU STEM Dean Martin Abraham said the program would better connect business with YSU faculty, who can then undertake some initial concept development that could lead to potential commercial breakthrough.

“Many of these projects need some preliminary data before a funding agency will even consider the concept,” he said. “This program provides the funding needed to complete that preliminary work, so that our faculty and their business partners can develop a competitive proposal. And the success of the project then leads to commercial activity, which creates more jobs for our graduates.”

Applications for Youngstown Phase Zero grants will be handled through Mike Hripko, director of YSU STEM Research and Technology Based Economic Development. An independent review panel that consists of representatives from YSU and YBI, as well as one or more individuals from academia, government, economic development agencies or other similar entities, will review the proposals and determine the grant recipients. For more information, contact Hripko at 330-941-4634.

About Youngstown State University
Youngstown State University is a comprehensive emerging urban research university that offers over 14,000 students more than 135 undergraduate and graduate programs backed by a strong tradition of teaching, scholarship and public service. As a major educational and economic development resource in the region, YSU is known for its focus on academic research and creative programs that transform its students into successful professionals, scholars and leaders. Located in the heart of the Tech Belt between Cleveland and Pittsburgh, YSU provides opportunities for students to actively participate with accomplished faculty, often in one-on-one settings, on advanced research and creative collaborations. The beautiful 145-acre campus includes high-tech classrooms, state-of-the-art labs and performance facilities, a variety of on-campus housing options and recreational facilities among the best in the nation.