Business incubator panel new to conference

WORTHINGTON -- The fourth annual Bioscience Conference is just days away in Worthington, and speakers for the two-day event are putting the final touches on their presentations.

WORTHINGTON -- The fourth annual Bioscience Conference is just days away in Worthington, and speakers for the two-day event are putting the final touches on their presentations.

The Thursday-Friday conference promises some of the most intriguing people and informative subjects in the bioscience arena -- and the premise that Worthington and the tri-state region can position itself for future growth and development in the industry.

The conference will take place in the Fine Arts building on the Minnesota West Community and Technical College campus in Worthington. The event kicks off at 12:30 p.m. Thursday with a welcome by Worthington Mayor Alan Oberloh, followed by featured panels on renewables and commercialization and business incubator/accelerators.

Tamara Goetz, appointed science advisor for the State of Utah, is one of three panelists to speak during the commercialization and business incubator/accelerator panel.

Worthington Regional Economic Development Corp. manager Glenn Thuringer, who coordinates the annual conference, said this is the first time a panel has been offered on the particular topic.


A business incubator is a building that provides new companies with a place to get started -- a "launching pad" of sorts to help them get off the ground and grow so that they can eventually expand into a larger area.

Thuringer explained that a building used as a business incubator typically offers a company a reduced rental rate to help with finances until they become more established.

"(The accelerator) provides more experience to help get it going," he added.

During the Thursday afternoon panel, Goetz will talk about her work with InnovaBio, a student-driven, non-profit contract research company that provides training to high school and college students. The program ultimately leads students to internships within a life science company in Utah.

The project includes training in two specific areas -- lab technology and bio-manufacturing training technology -- and is funded with a U.S. Department of Labor Workforce Innovation for Regional Economic Development (WIRED) grant.

"We have 15,000 square feet to do a pilot incubator," Goetz said, adding that the building features several small private labs, a larger lab and a training facility.

"(In the facility), high school and biotech students are doing research under supervision with researchers," she said.

Goetz will share with conference attendees the concept behind the model and how it could be a tool for development locally.


With a spec building standing empty in Worthington's designated bioscience park, Thuringer hopes to lure companies needing an incubator-type facility to get started.

"We would like to have a training and testing center of our own," he said, adding that the hope is the spec building could host three different incubators. "We've been talking about which model do we go with -- the incubator or acceleration."

There is also the commercialization avenue, which would host start-up businesses that take research and turn it into products for commercial sale. The feasibility of commercialization in a largely rural area without a predominant university nearby will also be addressed.

"I think there's a mindset out there that to be successful with commercialization and incubation, you need to be near a major university," Thuringer said.

Without the support of sponsors, Thuringer said it would be impossible to bring speakers such as Goetz to Worthington. There are more than 25 corporate sponsors helping to finance this year's conference.

"We're just glad the sponsors see this as a value," he said.

Sponsorships have come from not just the Worthington area, but from throughout the region -- something Thuringer said is important to note.

"We know we cannot succeed by just being a single entity," Thuringer said. "It's better to market the region. We hope northwest Iowa and southeast South Dakota see that as well."

Julie Buntjer became editor of The Globe in July 2021, after working as a beat reporter at the Worthington newspaper since December 2003. She has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism from South Dakota State University.
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