RCBI drives innovation with nearly $700,000 in seed funding

A professor has an idea for a new product. An entrepreneur wants to test his design for a better fastener. An existing business seeks to launch a new product line. These and many other ideas have become reality with the help of the Robert C. Byrd Institute (RCBI) at Marshall University.

With the latest round of seed funding awards, 14 additional West Virginia companies and entrepreneurs will receive assistance in moving concepts to reality by utilizing the manufacturing expertise of RCBI and its innovative technologies such as 3D printers, computer-controlled machines and laser cutters.

“Prototypes, building skillsets, marketing assistance and commercialization viability are vital for taking ideas to investors and ultimately to market,” said Charlotte Weber, RCBI director & CEO. “You need something people can see, touch, feel and understand its potential.”

RCBII has awarded nearly $700,000 in early stage assistance to 172 West Virginia entrepreneurs and startup companies, helping them design and patent new products, in-source work, cut lead times and create jobs, said Derek Scarbro, director of business development at RCBI.

The first three years of RCBI’s early stage funding programs generated $66 million in state sales and led to the creation of 318 jobs, according to an economic impact analysis by Marshall University.

The latest award recipients:

  • Cole Motorsports of Mercer County – $10,000 to achieve AS 9100 certification – an aerospace quality assurance program – to allow for aerospace applications for its windshield protectant films
  • Craft Tote of Kanawha County – $5,000 to design and prototype a tool carrying kit for construction contractors
  • Sonia Gonzales of Harrison County – $1,500 to prototype a new travel baby bottle system that also makes the transition from breastfeeding to bottle feeding easier
  • Huntington Drum & Container of Cabell County – $5,000 to rebrand and revamp the company’s marketing efforts to promote the company’s services to industry
  • Industrial Bolting Technologies of Kanawha County – $5,000 to expand its marketing into new sales territories for their hydraulic torque wrenches
  • Key Breads of Cabell County – $5,000 to market its new healthy bread mix products online
  • Interstate Radiator of Kanawha County – $7,000 for computer-aided design software training and web-based marketing
  • M-Rock of Monroe County – $10,000 to develop prototypes for a new architectural stone installation system
  • Multicoat Products of Putnam County – $5,000 to market a new stucco stenciling product
  • Novus Aero Development of Cabell County – $10,000 to machine and 3D print parts for an aircraft prototype
  • Preiser Scientific of Kanawha County – $5,000 to boost web-based marketing and sales
  • Robert Peyton Jr. of Fayette County – $5,000 for promotion and development of a website to market his portable tote for all-terrain vehicles
  • Rocco’s Italian Specialty Foods of Wayne County – $5,000 to improve marketing for its frozen food product line, which will include a new single-serve microwavable offering
  • Vinyl Graphix of Kanawha County – $5,000 to market the company’s custom vehicle signage capabilities.

RCBI provides early stage assistance to help state companies and entrepreneurs innovate and grow their businesses. Marketing grants are awarded in partnership with Advantage Valley.

These early-stage funding initiatives are administered through RCBI’s Appalachian Hatchery and Accelerate Forward programs and made possible through the financial support of the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) and the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation. Appalachian Hatchery is part of POWER (Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization), a multi-agency initiative that delivers federal resources to help communities affected by job losses in coal mining and related industries.