Virtual Incubation Co. Warms Up for Expansion, Lands Former Tyson Exec Greg Lee

by Mark Carter  on Monday, Nov. 1, 2010 12:00 am  

Greg Lee, left, and Calvin Goforth of Virtual Incubation Co. hope to see northwest Arkansas become a high-tech hotbed.

'Instant Management'

It's that "instant management" aspect of VIC's guidance that is so valuable, said NanoMech CEO Keith Blakely. NanoMech is a VIC client that is poised to hire its own full-time managerial staff. It could be considered one of VIC's bigger success stories, having won multiple military contracts for its nanoparticle coatings and additives.

"It's a very rare circumstance to find an inventor who has the full set of background and skills to build a company from scratch - not to mention access to capital - and who is truly prepared to risk it all to see his technology dream realized," Blakely said. "VIC offers them an opportunity to advance their idea and product to a point where a better assessment of the commercial viability, technical uniqueness, market interest and manufacturability can be made."

Lee understands what it takes to make a company successful and appreciates the risks involved in evaluating opportunities.

"I was very impressed with the rigor Calvin and the management team used in evaluating opportunities," he said. "I was impressed with their ability to actually execute a cadre of services that you have to bring to bear in a very discerning manner. There's a lot of rigor applied to trying to determine the viability of technology: Is it commercially viable; is it financially viable?"

He thinks VIC has some winners in its stable. SFC Fluidics, which develops laboratories-on-a-chip technology for use in the life science fields, is another client ready to realize its own full-time management team.

"Theirs is a very interesting portfolio with companies at different stages of development. Each, in its own right, has an interesting future," Lee said. "Because of my long business career, I've touched a lot of things these companies are going to have to touch. Maybe my experience could make a difference for them."


Economic Impact

VIC has licensed technologies from research institutions around the world, such as Japan and India, but remains very much rooted in Arkansas. Originally, all the technology originated out of the UA, and now 10 of 12 VIC clients have Arkansas tech associated with them.

All VIC firms are headquartered in northwest Arkansas. While not all its firms will make it big or perhaps even stay in Arkansas, those that do are expected to have a big impact on the state.

"The economic impact could be big, with very high-quality R&D jobs on the Ph.D. and Master's levels - scientists and engineers," Goforth said. "That's just the tip of the iceberg. Hiring goes up significantly as you emerge out of R&D and into sales."



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