Claymont Train Station Rendering Delaware

Claymont Renaissance Continues

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Claymont Renaissance Continues

Claymont Train Station rendering Delaware business

Community hears updates on development initiatives


On December 3, 2019, more than 150 people attended a public meeting at the Crowne Plaza Hotel to learn about economic progress in northern Claymont, Delaware, which is situated near the state’s border with Pennsylvania.

The panel, hosted by the Claymont Renaissance Development Corporation, included representatives from the Delaware Transit Corporation, the Wilmington Area Planning Council, the CRDC and Commercial Development Corporation. 

There was much to discuss, including a new train station and office park, biking and walking trails, and a possible residential area.

“A lot of great questions were asked. I was pleased to be there and see the interaction,” said New County Councilman John Cartier.

 Building a Hub

Claymont has long been prized for its location near interstates, railways and the Delaware River. The new train station, which is currently under construction, is slated to open in 2022. “This will be a state-of-the-art commuter rail station that will drive redevelopment in the whole north Claymont zone,” Cartier said.

The access to Amtrak’s Northeast corridor and SETPA Regional Rail service is attractive to businesses. Commercial Development Company (CDC), which now owns the leveled Evraz Claymont Steel property, has filed an exploratory plan with New Castle County to build an office park adjacent to the train station.

 Live, Work, Play

For commuters, Claymont’s location is a plus, and the area has a mix of housing options, from old manor homes with river views to apartments. More recently, buyers have had the choice of new construction in Darley Green.

Just minutes from I-95 and I-495, Darley Green blends townhomes and apartments with the new Claymont Public Library and retail space. The community is 75% built out, Cartier reported at the CRDC meeting at the library on Dec. 4. “It’s a milestone; the project is near completion.”   

Seeing the popularity of Darley Green, CDC has considered developing a 1,200-unit residential project of townhomes and apartments. At the CRDC meeting, Cartier and Brett Saddler, executive director of the public-private CRDC, stressed that CDC had not filed a proposal.

 Both residents and visitors will soon have more to do in their own backyard. Hangman Brewing Company is nearly ready to open near the intersection of Harvey Road and Philadelphia Pike, Saddler said. 

For outdoor enthusiasts, the Wilmington Area Planning Council, a regional transportation agency, is conducting studies to make Governor Printz Boulevard more pedestrian-friendly. According to Saddler, the goal is to connect the former steel mill and train station sites with Bellevue State Park and Fox Point State Park to the north and, therefore, create a link with the Northern Delaware Greenway.

“This is exciting for people who like to bike and walk,” he said. “It will be safe and aesthetically pleasing.”

The North Area Claymont Master Plan also includes a marina on the Delaware River, easy waterfront access and a recreation area.

 The CRDC will continue to hold regular update meetings so the public can weigh in. “CRDC works for the people of Claymont,” Saddler concludes. “We will be here month after month, rain or shine, to answer questions the best we can.” 

For information on the CRDC, visit claymontrenaissance.org. For a video rendering of the train station, visit youtube.com/watch?v=qbh0JZmbmfc&feature=youtu.be

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UD, Delaware Technology Park and Discover Bank partner on new FinTech building at STAR Campus

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UD, Delaware Technology Park and Discover Bank Partner on new FinTech Building at STAR Campus

25 NOVEMBER, 2019 | PETER BOTHUM | UNIVERSITY OF DELAWARE

Once a nearly blank canvas inviting imagination for what the university of the future may look like, the University of Delaware’s Science Technology and Advanced Research (STAR) Campus is realizing such transformation on a daily basis. Combining top academics and research with industry and community partnerships, a renewed future is shaping in real time at this intersection of discovery, education and innovation, driven by a bold vision for positive impact on the world.

UD, Delaware Technology Park (DTP) and Discover Bank will partner on the construction of a new building that continues the STAR Campus’s march into the future, adding a building block that taps into the evolving world of financial services technology — commonly called FinTech — with an eye on growth for Delaware.

Like the previous construction on STAR Campus, the six-story, 100,000-square feet structure will bring various facets of an industry together under one roof, in this case the academic, business and governmental segments of the financial world.

“Working with DTP and Discover to strengthen Delaware’s growing FinTech sector, the University of Delaware is proud to participate in this public-private partnership, continuing development of knowledge and innovations that help drive our state’s economy,” said UD President Dennis Assanis. “Our University is a national leader in finance, technology and entrepreneurship, so combining our expertise and resources in these complementary fields will yield exciting opportunities for our students and faculty with meaningful impact on society.”

The new FinTech building will add immense value to Delaware’s growing prowess in financial technology. More and more financial services companies are morphing into technology companies. Global investment in FinTech-related companies rose from $18.9 billion in 2013 to $111.8 billion in 2018, according to a recent report by the Delaware Prosperity Partnership.

“We’re working hard in Delaware to support those entrepreneurs and innovators who will keep our state competitive in the 21st century economy, and drive new job creation,” Governor John Carney said. “We’re also good at working together in Delaware, and I am really pleased to see this kind of collaboration between the private sector and the University of Delaware. This partnership at the STAR Campus will help create a pipeline of skilled local talent, support our entrepreneurs, build on our strength in financial technology, and strengthen our economy over the long term.”

By constructing a hub where the financial services industry and academia intersect with technology and innovation, UD, Discover and DTP will contribute to the vitality of Delaware’s economy. UD’s research and instruction in data-related disciplines will create a highly capable workforce to feed the FinTech industry in Delaware, including the start-up businesses that will hatch, grow and spin out of the new facility.

The building will house:

  • Spaces for startups to develop and grow, managed by Delaware Technology Park. Tenants will have onsite access to business development resources and technical assistance.
  • Labs and centers associated within UD’s College of Engineering and Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics. These spaces will link strengths and resources from both colleges on topics such as financial analytics, cybersecurity, human-machine learning and data analysis.
  • UD’s Office of Economic Innovation and Partnerships (OEIP) will relocate its offices from the Delaware Technology Park’s Innovation Way location.
  • Delaware’s Small Business Development Center, which will be synergistically located to offer assistance to OEIP’s Spin In program. This program connects UD undergraduate students with community entrepreneurs and early-stage startups to give them an inside look at business innovation in action and a chance to apply what they’re learning in real-life situations.

“Delaware Technology Park is excited to launch a new building project on STAR Campus in conjunction with the University of Delaware and funded by Discover Bank,” said Mike Bowman, president and CEO of DTP. “It will contain faculty, students and entrepreneurs with outstanding data science knowledge and digital management competencies as well as support resources for business development and community education.”

The $38 million project will be funded via a favorable below market interest rate loan by Discover Bank to DTP, the owner of the building. UD will lease space in the building.

Discover Bank is currently exploring ways to partner with UD on research related to the financial technology needs of the bank that may include cyber-related technologies, and consumer data analytics, applications and behaviors. A national nonprofit focused on improving the financial health of communities, has partnered with Discover Bank to work with UD, DTP, entrepreneurs and the community on the utilization and testing of financial technologies to improve consumer financial health.

“Discover Bank is dedicated to building stronger communities, which is why we’ve championed this project with the Delaware Technology Park and the University of Delaware to expand economic opportunities, create jobs in financial services and FinTech, and promote financial health for underserved populations,” said Discover Bank President James J. Roszkowski. “The development at STAR helps us realize our vision of creating brighter financial futures for consumers as well as creating new opportunities for the business community.”

The building, which is scheduled for a 2021 opening, will mark the first sizable presence of Lerner College on the STAR Campus.

“This project will create an excellent opportunity for UD students to explore new frontiers in data-related disciplines including computer and information sciences, computer engineering and financial analytics,” UD Provost Robin Morgan said. “With a focus on setting up our students for success, the UD community will have access to new space for academic growth and the pursuit of employment opportunities in the continuously expanding FinTech industry here in Delaware.”

Potential plans and programs include a cybersecurity leadership center that would link Lerner’s cybersecurity management with the College of Engineering’s cybersecurity engineering and technology, a space for human-machine learning and social media data analysis and a multi-media studio.

Kurt Foreman

PRESIDENT & CEO

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Wilmington, Delaware economic development

DPP’s Role in Delaware Economic Development

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DPP’s Role in Delaware Economic Development

This month, we had an opportunity to meet with Becky Harrington, Director of Business Development, to chat about Delaware’s economic development efforts. Below, she shares some background and insights about the Delaware Prosperity Partnership (DPP) and its role in helping the state attract new jobs and companies. (This interview has been edited for length and clarity.)

Leading Delaware’s Economic Development Efforts


Like most state economic development organizations, when the DPP was formed, it focused on creating new jobs and investment in Delaware. These efforts focus on four areas:

  1. Attraction – Focusing on bringing new companies here
  2. Expansion – Engaging and supporting existing employers
  3. Innovation – Convening and supporting new, emerging sectors
  4. Talent – Enhancing the state’s talent pool and supporting employers in their workforce needs

Most states focus on the first three areas, but the fourth area has been increasing in importance across the nation. The emphasis on workforce and talent cultivation has become an increasingly important element of attracting new companies and retaining existing employers. As a result, DPP has a focus on talent attraction, to complement what Delaware Technical Community College and other colleges and universities are doing. We want to further strengthen Delaware’s talent pipeline with a two-pronged approached – by developing local talent and attracting employees from outside the state. We have some exciting initiatives that will help Delaware stay competitive.

Partnerships Fuel Delaware Economic Development


Our economic development efforts are fueled by strong partnerships. We include our statewide partners when we engage with new companies and site selectors. Because of these valuable partnerships, prospects considering Delaware are able to ask peer companies important questions about the business climate, labor force, taxes, and quality of life.

Delaware’s Collaborative Spirit

In Delaware, we often say that we are bigger because of our size. We can easily access elected officials, regulatory agency leaders, and community leaders to help our clients and prospects. When a prospect sees how cooperative our state is, it makes it easy to visualize how Delaware can be a good fit for their company.

Delaware’s Pro-Business Attitude

We have a pro-business attitude in Delaware, both on the government side and corporate leadership side. It is exciting to be here working with DPP – From Governor John Carney to our Congressional delegation to our private sector investors, there is a great focus on creating the right kind of jobs and the right kind of investments in our state.

If you’re looking to grow or expand your business or would like to learn how our Delaware economic development agency can help you, contact us today at (302) 477-7497.

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Datwyler Sealing Solutions plant in Middleton Delaware

Datwyler Sealing Solutions Chooses Delaware for $100 Million Facility

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Datwyler Sealing Solutions Chooses Delaware for $100 Million Facility

Datwyler Sealing Solutions new facility Middleton DE

When Datwyler Sealing Solutions decided to expand its manufacturing and distribution capabilities in North America, the Swiss company’s site selection criteria were quite specific. After considering locations across the United States, company leaders concluded that Middletown, Delaware, was the optimal location for its new $100 million, 200,000 sq. ft. manufacturing plant.

“We identified a handful of areas across the country that might satisfy our needs, “says Frank Schoubben, site director of the company’s new Middletown, DE, plant. He served as a member of the team tasked with selecting the new U.S. site.

Datwyler, a more than 100-year-old firm headquartered in the heart of the Swiss Alps, began as a manufacturer of rubber products, including tires. Today, however, Datwyler Holding owns 50 business entities, with sales in over 100 countries and employing more than 8,000 employees. Its product line includes a broad range of rubber stoppers, aluminum seals, plungers, combiseals, tip caps and needle shields used in pharmaceutical products, medical devices and for diagnostic research and drug development. Datwyler Sealing Solutions also makes products for the automotive business, consumer goods, oil & gas, and general industries.

The new Middletown plant, opened in 2018, is dedicated to Datwyler’s proprietary clean-room technology dubbed “FirstLine.” The technology is aimed at eliminating contamination in the manufacturing process, a critical concern in the pharmaceutical and medical devices industries.

During the site selection process, location was first on the list of Datwyler’s critical considerations. The site had to be near the company’s major customers in the pharmaceutical and medical devices industries. Sites across the continental United States were under consideration, but Datwyler was especially interested in locations in the tri-state area of New York, Delaware, and New Jersey, an epicenter of the American pharma industry.

In addition to geographic concerns, the company knew it would need to hire in excess of 100 employees with a variety of technical and business skills. So, a critical element of the search process was a survey of educational resources that would be nearby and responsive to Datwyler’s requirements.

Finally, the new site had to be near a major, international airport.

In the end, Middletown, Delaware, made the cut. 

A native of Belgium, Schoubben holds a master’s degree in industrial engineering and electrical mechanics with a specialty in polymers. A 16-year veteran of Datwyler, he has worked at company sites around the world. Most importantly, he led a greenfield site project in India, so he has lived through – and mastered – the tricky process of managing the technical and regulatory details of site selection.

“A number of things attracted us to Delaware. Of course, its proximity to our customers, many of whom are in New Jersey, was a key factor,” says Schoubben. “There are about 100 colleges and universities within a 2-hour drive from Delaware, so we knew we would have an attractive pool of well-educated people to satisfy our hiring needs.”

While technical competency is a requirement for employment with companies like Datwyler, so-called “soft skills” are also in demand. “A key objective of our hiring process is to identify people we can groom as future leaders,” says Schoubben. “We are engaged in that search now and expect to hire a total of 120 employees for this site.”

“We appreciate and admire Delaware’s historic ties to the chemical industry and manufacturing,” says Schoubben.  “And, of course, the scale of business and industrial growth in the Middletown area made it clear that this area welcomes companies like ours.”

Once Delaware emerged as the leading contender, Datwyler reached out to state economic development officials to explore the feasibility of locating in the Middletown area.

“Our experience was great,” Schoubben says. “It was very easy to establish open communications with state and local officials.”

He says they helped the company overcome potential barriers to obtaining permits and navigating regulatory workstreams. Because of their extensive experience, Delaware officials were able to arrange key contacts, make introductions and sequence events so that the overall process flowed smoothly.

“It’s been a good ride for us,” says Schoubben. “We continue to have good relationships with state and local officials and they continue to provide support when we need it. The fact that it took only 18 months from groundbreaking to grand opening is really notable. This is a winner for us!”

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No State Builds Pathways from High School to Jobs as well as Delaware Does: Opinion

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No State Builds Pathways from High School to Jobs as well as Delaware Does: Opinion

7 NOVEMBER, 2019

How can it be that with the lowest unemployment rate in anyone’s memory, the U.S. still has 6.9 jobs seeking workers and 6.3 workers seeking jobs?

There is no single answer, but a big part of the problem is the skills gap – not enough workers with the right skills, especially to fill middle-skill jobs in such fields as health care, IT, and advanced manufacturing.

Many states are building pipeline programs to address this gap, programs that begin in high school, connect to post secondary institutions, and work with employers to ensure that students have the right skills to fill in-demand jobs that can get them launched on fulfilling careers.

No state does this as well as Delaware.

Over these past six years, Delaware has, from a standing start, created a statewide career pathways system that has become a model for the nation. Delaware has grown from 27 students enrolled in an advanced manufacturing program in 2014 to 16,000 students across the state currently enrolled in 25 career pathways in 12 high-growth, high-demand sectors of the state’s economy.

The state is on track to meet its goal of enrolling 20,000 students — half the high school population — in career pathways by 2020.

Delaware’s story is the lead chapter in a new book just published by Harvard Education Press, “Career Pathways in Action: Case Studies from the Field,” written by Nancy Hoffman and myself. This book, and the case study of Delaware Pathways, will be featured in a session at the upcoming annual Vision Coalition Conference Tuesday, Nov. 12 at the University of Delaware.

In a few short years, Delaware Pathways has transformed the education landscape. Career pathways match students’ interests with tailored instruction and relevant work-based learning experiences, and award industry-recognized credentials and college credits while students are still in high school.

These pathways provide on and off ramps for the full spectrum of options. A young person on a health care pathway could use it to decide: a) to become a certified nursing assistant so she can start earning some money while she weighs her options; b) to start working toward becoming a medical doctor; or c) that it isn’t the right field.

The goal is to give program participants enough early exposure to the world of work and careers to make informed decisions about what comes next after high school.

How has Delaware been able to build such a robust career pathways system in such a short time? The secret is partnership.

The collaboration among statewide entities like the departments of Education and Labor, Delaware Technical Community College, the United Way, Rodel and a network of private employers large and small led to the development of a compelling strategic plan specifying the roles and responsibilities of each partner.

This cross-agency structure is unusually strong, and a dedicated core team from the partner organizations has stuck together to implement that plan.

Delaware Pathways is not without its challenges, including the provision of meaningful work-based learning opportunities for all participants and the development of a long-range funding plan.

But with Gov. John Carney leading the effort to bring more employers to the table, the first challenge is being addressed, and given the broad-based political support for the program, I’m confident the funding challenge will be addressed as well.

Delaware, you are currently building what many believe is the most scalable and replicable career pathways model in the nation.

Keep pushing.

The leaders of the other 15 state and regional members of the Pathways Network are all pulling for you because what you build here could not only help your young people, but benefit their peers in states across the United States.

— Robert Schwartz is a professor emeritus of practice in educational policy and administration at Harvard Graduate School of Education and co-founder of the Pathways to Prosperity Network.

Kurt Foreman

PRESIDENT & CEO

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Delaware Biotech Businesses Focus on Innovation

Delaware Biotech Businesses Focus on Innovation

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Delaware Biotech Businesses Focus on Innovation

31 OCTOBER, 2019

For Delaware biotech companies, innovation is booming. Attracted to a business environment ripe with opportunity, bioscience companies in the First State are finding it possible to grow in a very dynamic ways. While Delaware’s enviable location, low cost of doing business, and collaborative, business-friendly environment are some of the key factors attracting biotech businesses, Delaware’s focus on innovation and rich diversity in biosciences makes it a prime location.

With the fourth highest number of employed PhDs working in the fields of science, en-gineering and healthcare, and a strong workforce and talent bred by the major academic institutions in the state, biotech companies in Delaware are primed for innovation. Read on to learn how a few of the leaders in the biotech industry are innovating in Delaware.

Incyte

Incyte is a global biopharmaceutical company headquartered in Wilmington, Delaware. Founded in 2002, Incyte is focused on the discovery, development, and commercialization of novel medicines to meet serious unmet medical needs in oncology and inflammation and autoimmunity. Today, the Company employs more than 1,400 people in the US, Europe and Japan as it strives to discover and de-velop first-in-class and best-in-class medicines—advancing a diverse portfolio of large and small molecules.

Investing in Delaware has brought positive results according to Incyte’s CEO Hervé Hoppenot:

“It has been a very understanding community around us, from the county, from the city, from the state. I must say we have an extraordinarily positive support and frankly we stay out of the craziness of Boston, Palo Alto, Shanghai. We are very close to key academic centers which are basically not only bringing talent to our organization, but are also a place where we can do partnerships, scientific partner-ships… I think that Delaware is a place where we are taking root, putting our infrastructure, expanding our teams and it will be part of that adventure.”

Adesis, Inc.

Founded in 1991 as CB Research and Development in Newport, Delaware, Adesis, Inc. is one of the first boutique chemistry Contract Research Organizations (CROs) in North America. Today, Adesis is a leading custom organic synthesis CRO specializing in organic and organometallic synthesis to support the pharmaceuticals, biomaterials and catalyst industries.

Adesis is one of the fastest growing life sciences companies in America necessitating the expansion of their facilities. In October 2018, Adesis celebrated the grand opening of its new, state-of-the-art chemistry laboratories, where Adesis scientists perform leading-edge discovery, development, and commercialization services. Along with state and local Delaware officials, the Delaware Prosperity Partnership supported the expansion, awarding Adesis a $445,224 grant to help facilitate its growth, resulting in the creation of more high-tech jobs in Delaware.

Senator Tom Carper said it best when asked about the company’s latest expansion in Delaware:

“We are thrilled that Adesis chose to make Delaware its home, and we are rooting for the company’s continued success and growth. This expansion not only means job growth here and now in Delaware, but a level of innovation that can benefit generations to come.”

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Delaware: The Small State Big on Iinnovation

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Delaware: The Small State Big on Innovation

21 OCTOBER, 2019 | KURT FOREMAN | INDIA GLOBAL BUSINESS

Some of the world’s most transformative innovations got their start in Delaware. Centrally located on the East Coast of the US, between Boston and Washington DC, Delaware is known for its global leadership in science, tech and agriculture thanks to the track record of successful Delaware companies such as DuPont, which has operated in the First State for more than 200 years.

Thanks to Delaware Governor John Carney, two new business incentives will ensure that Delaware continues its storied legacy of business friendliness and innovation. The Angel Investor Tax Credit offers a 25 per cent tax break to individual backers who invest a minimum of $10,000 in a qualified Delaware company. Businesses eligible for the incentive must have fewer than 25 employees and engage in innovation as their primary business activity. This tax credit includes and is not limited to energy, food technology, cellulosic ethanol, materials science technology, nanotechnology, biotechnology, medical device products, pharmaceuticals, diagnostics, biologicals, and chemistry.

The New Economy Jobs Tax Credit supports employers that add at least 200 new jobs in the state with an annual salary averaging $70,000, or 50 new jobs with salaries of at least $120,000.

Businesses are choosing Delaware because of its highly respected and trusted corporate law system; its enviable East Coast location, varied talent pool its commitment to diversity and ease of incorporation.

When you combine Delaware’s access to an exceptionally experienced and welcoming talent pool from some of Fortune 500’s most innovative companies, emerging entrepreneurs have the best of both worlds, as well as the wonderful quality of life Delaware has to offer.

Just ask research scientist, Sumedh Surwade, PhD. He joined Fujifilm in New Castle, Delaware after post-doctoral research at the University of Pittsburg and Oak Ridge National Lab.

He founded SAS Nanotechnologies and is developing a potentially transformative innovation – environmentally friendly, self-healing, anti-corrosive coatings. It’s not only a green idea, but it also has implications and applications for everything from aerospace to the marine industry. Industries spend billions annually on repairing or replacing corroded metallic structures; a planet-friendly, self-healing coating would revolutionise industries that use metal.

The brand name for the planet-friendly coating is Shobhation. Surwade and his wife named the coating after his mother, Shobha, a Hindi word that means Grace; they blended the name with the defining super-quality of the coatings “to inhibit corrosion” and came up with Shobhation.

SAS Nanotechnologies not only won top honours at a local chamber of commerce’s 2018 Swim with the Shark’s Entrepreneurial Summit, it also garnered one of the AkzoNobel Paint-the-Future Global Start-Up Challenge Awards in Amsterdam. The competition for this international honour is steep and just getting short-listed is an honour, let alone winning.

With several patents in the review process, Surwade could have started his new company anywhere, but he chose Delaware. Surwade thinks Delaware makes it easier to begin a business than other places he has been. Delaware’s strong talent science and tech talent base gave him the encouragement he needed.

“In my opinion, Delaware is a wonderful place to start a business. It is a welcoming and friendly state with extremely talented people willing to share and support scientists and engineers starting out on their own. The support and guidance SAS Nanotechnologies received has been essential to our success,” said Surwade.

Shobhation is now being reviewed by industry partners and potential customers for feedback. Based on their insights, the product will be further refined, inching closer to commercial launch. As a beneficiary of investment capital, Surwade says angel investor tax credits play an important role for science and tech start-ups. “Angel investment is essential in the early days of capital-intensive research. To complete the journey from innovation to bench, to prototype, to commercial scale, is labour and capital intensive. Angel investors make all the difference.”

Batta Environmental Associates found its way to Delaware through a different route. Company founder Naresh Batta arrived in the US in the mid- ‘70s from India to complete an MS degree in Chemistry at the internationally recognised program at the University of Delaware. He liked what he experienced here, and he decided to form his business Batta Environmental Associates in the university-based town of Newark, Delaware.

Since its inception, Batta has grown steadily both domestically and internationally with work in Mexico, the UAE and India. With a solid presence along the East Coast, Batta’s growth plans include expanding its Environmental Engineering and Consulting Services both state-wide and internationally.

Senior VP Neeraj K. Batta says Delaware is a great and safe place to raise a family with the opportunity to experience everything from exceptional parks, beaches, art and culture, with easy access to just about anywhere.

Although Batta Environmental Associates has not leveraged Delaware’s tax credit, incentives or strategic fund, Batta explains that some of their clients have.

“In fact,” says Batta, “Delaware’s Brownfields Grant and Low-Income Housing Tax Credits from Delaware State Housing Authority have enticed some of our clients to actually locate and build in Delaware.”

Delaware has something for everyone, from small-town charm to metro life, and it is one of the most affordable and accessible places to live along the East Coast of the US.

Kurt Foreman is President and CEO at Delaware Property Partnership.

This article was originally posted on the Delaware Business Times at https://indiaincgroup.com/delaware-the-small-state-big-on-innovation-india-global-business/ 

Kurt Foreman

PRESIDENT & CEO

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Agribusiness: An Up-Close Look at Delaware’s Farms

Agribusiness: An up-close look at Delaware’s farms

7 OCTOBER, 2019

In September, the Delaware Prosperity Partnership (DPP) led its second ag tour, connecting local entrepreneurs and researchers to farmers and other agtech stakeholders to learn from one another and problem solve.

The group started at the Delaware Department of Agriculture (DDA), where they were greeted by Ag Secretary Michael Scuse, then they visited Fifer Orchards in Camden. Bobby Fifer, one of the owner/operators of the farm addressed the group, shared challenges that the farm faces in terms of business and technology and fielded questions from the group. Ed Kee, DPP Board member and former Ag Secretary, also answered questions and spurred on the discussion.

Sec. Kee then led the group to visit farmer Brandon Bonk, who took a break from harvesting corn in one of his fields outside of Frederica to answer questions from the group, ranging from the breadth of technology inside the cab of his combine harvester, to the types of cover crops he uses to seed his fields when not in primary use. Bonk, who farms nearly 5,000 acres with only a modest staff, uses a sophisticated operation to handle the breadth of acreage.

Entrepreneurs and researchers were able to have direct access to farmers and relevant stakeholders to gather information. This is the second farm tour led by DPP, and is part of our organizations commitment to the AgTech and Ag community in Delaware.

For more information and/or to participate in the next tour (Likely in Spring 2020) email innovate@choosedelaware.com.

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Q&A with Christina Pellicane, I-Corps Program Administrator

Q&A with Christina Pellicane, I-Corps Program Administrator

7 OCTOBER, 2019

Why do you think the NSF I-Corps is valuable to starts-up in the science and engineering space?

The University of Delaware’s NSF I-Corps Sites provides grants of up to $3,000 and training to support team-based customer discovery research aimed at investigating the commercial viability and societal impact of a novel STEM technology or process.

Typically, academic researchers who begin down the path of commercialization never stop to ask themselves, “Does anyone care about my technology?” or, even more insightfully, “How does my technology solve a real problem in the world today?”

The I-Corps Site program provides a low-risk environment and a structured process to systematically validate (or invalidate!) components of a business model and ultimately determine whether the business has product-market fit.

Not only that, but the I-Corps site program also provides $3,000 in non-dilutive funding to get out of the building and talk to potential customers. This is an opportunity that didn’t exist for entrepreneurs even 10 years ago. If you wanted to start a startup, you had to bootstrap it or find an investor who believed in you. Academics are great at explaining how a technology works but I-Corps teaches them to learn why it’s valuable to customers.

How many train-the-trainer sessions have you conducted so far?

This cohort is our 15th and it’s the first we’ve done in partnership with the NYC Regional Innovation Node (NYCRIN). NYCRIN runs all of their regional programs as a train-the-trainer, which makes this collaboration very exciting. We’ve been able to train 12 fantastic adjuncts who all have experience as startup founders, CEOs, intrapreneurs or investors! Our bench of potential I-Corps Site instructors has dramatically increased this fall.

Having a larger bench of instructors is important for diversity and inclusion (67% of our current adjuncts-in-training are women or underrepresented minorities) as well as our capacity to train even more I-Corps Site teams going forward with highly-qualified entrepreneurship practitioners.

How do we measure the success of I-Corps?

Fail fast. Fail often. Failing isn’t something we usually celebrate at a university but, when it comes to entrepreneurship education, we do.

It’s important that success is measured by learning and not by validating what you thought might be true about your business model. From that lens, success is measured by talking to many potential customers about their pain points, pivoting and iterating and finally building a solution to a problem that the entrepreneur knows exists because they heard it repeatedly and directly from the voice of the customer.

In addition to measuring the number of customer interviews and strength of the business model, success is measured by the number of teams who received follow-on funding. A few of these funding sources are the NSF I-Corps Teams program, VentureWell’s E-Teams program, our Blue Hen Proof of Concept Program and our Summer Founders pre-accelerator program.

We strongly encourage I-Corps Site teams to apply for the national NSF I-Corps Teams grant, which provides a $50,000 grant and a longer, more intense Lean LaunchPad program.

Tell us more about Horn Entrepreneurship & I-Corps:

Horn Entrepreneurship serves as the University of Delaware’s creative engine for entrepreneurship education and advancement. Built and actively supported by successful entrepreneurs and thought leaders, Horn Entrepreneurship empowers aspiring innovators and entrepreneurs as they pursue new ideas for a better world.

Horn Entrepreneurship became an NSF I-Corps site in 2014 with the central aim of serving as an “Ecosystem Catalyst” for the university and the broader region. In the 4+ years post-award, the impacts and outcomes associated with the site suggest that this aim has been accomplished.

The National Science Foundation Innovation Corps (NSF I-Corps) site program provides specialized training and mini grants of up to $3,000 to help teams bridge the gap between academic research and product commercialization, University intellectual property, or any STEM-related technology. This program provides real-world, hands-on learning experience that improve the odds for successful products and processes that benefit society.

The entire Team will engage with industry stakeholders – including customers, partners and competitors. The team will also experience first-hand, the chaos and uncertainty of commercializing innovations and creating ventures.

This course will not teach you how to write a research paper, business plan or NSF grant proposal. It is also not an exercise to prove how smart you are in a lab / classroom, how well you use the research library, or if you can publish a paper. Rather, this course is about “getting out of the building.” You will spend a significant amount of time talking to customers and testing your hypotheses. You should not participate in the I-Corps program if you cannot commit the time to talk to customers.

Referenced webpages:

Blue Hen Proof of Concept Program: https://www.udel.edu/research-innovation/horn/venture-support/blue-hen-poc/

UD I-Corps Site: https://www.udel.edu/research-innovation/horn/venture-support/nsf-i-corps-sites/

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