The efactory expects a new grant of $350,000 – its largest to date – will translate into an economic impact boon.
Officials with Missouri State University’s business incubator announced earlier this month it had received a Missouri Building Entrepreneurial Capacity grant through the Missouri Technology Corp. MTC is a public-private partnership promoting entrepreneurship and fostering growth among new and emerging technology companies.
The efactory expects the MTC funding to result in $40 million in new local research and capital investment funding, 900 new jobs and 100 new investment-grade startups.
This is in addition to the incubator’s existing programs, which include a business accelerator and public and customized training for employees and businesses.
“Missouri Technology Corp. has been critical to our success and ability to scale more quickly to better serve our region,” efactory Director Rachel Anderson said via email.
Anderson joined the efactory in January 2015 after the organization received a $140,000 MTC grant to fund an entrepreneurial specialist position. She was promoted to the director post in October 2018, after serving in an interim capacity.
The efactory also was a recipient of a $300,000 MOBEC grant that helped launch the incubator’s business accelerator, a 12-week program in which participating companies receive a $30,000 investment in exchange for 8 percent equity. The fourth cohort is set to begin in May.
With the new grant, the efactory intends to add staff and new entrepreneurial programs, expand corporate programs, and refine mentorship and business consulting services. Anderson said via email changes to its mentorship and corporate innovation programs are still in the planning stages, but they’ll be announced soon.
“We are constantly reviewing our full suite of programs and offerings and continuously improving them to best serve entrepreneurs and small-business owners in southwest Missouri,” she said.
In addition, Anderson said a new position would be added soon to the efactory staff, which numbers nearly 20. Details of the job, including timing and title, are still being worked out, she added.
Anderson was among the efactory staff attending the 20th annual InvestMidwest Venture Capital Forum on March 19-20 in Kansas City. The conference showcased more than 40 companies in industry tracks of life sciences, technology and food, agriculture and bioenergy.
While she declined to further detail the planned expansion of the efactory’s corporate innovation programs, Anderson noted such companies as CoxHealth have achieved success in partnering with the organization through innovation events and introductions to startups. She pointed to CoxHealth’s Innovation Accelerator, which held its fourth annual event in January at the efactory and had an idea for virtual reality training born from the 2018 event.
CoxHealth connected last year with VR platform Tacit, a spinoff of development studio Self Interactive, an efactory client. The health care system is initially investing $50,000 with Tacit for VR software and equipment to train staff in its environmental services department. CoxHealth held an internal launch event March 19 to showcase its new VR training module.
Through services at the efactory, Small Business Development Center at MSU and Jordan Valley Innovation Center, Anderson said the organization has served nearly 900 new business clients and helped create over 1,400 new jobs since opening in 2013.
“Our assistance has helped clients realize over $61 million in capital and equity and more than $10 million in research and grant support,” she said. “We are very proud of the contributions and impact to our community.
“The efactory was created to serve as a one-stop shop for small-business owners and entrepreneurs, and it’s no secret that Springfield does collaboration well,” Anderson added. “We couldn’t do what we do without the tremendous support from our community and business partners. The efactory is Springfield’s startup, and our success is our community’s success.”
Anderson said the efactory has been fully occupied for 18 months, with more than 45 companies currently operating out of the downtown facility in MSU’s Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise Center, 405 N. Jefferson Ave. She told SBJ in August 2018 the incubator has made a profit during each of its first five years of operation.
Element Springfield South opened; Outlaw Gentlemen Barbershop added a second location; and wellness studio Stretch Zone launched.