By Tim Ryan

The Norfolk State University Innovation Center (NSUIC) continues to be a beacon of innovation and entrepreneurship in Hampton Roads. Dedicated to supporting the underserved entrepreneurial community, the NSUIC’s 2023 Annual Report highlights a year of remarkable achievements, strategic partnerships, and transformative programs.

A Legacy of Innovation

Founded in 2019 by Glenn Carrington, JD, former Dean of NSU’s School of Business, the NSUIC was established to democratize access to information and capital among underserved communities. Located in the heart of Norfolk, Virginia, the center boasts state-of-the-art technology and resources designed to meet the diverse needs of local entrepreneurs.

This Year’s Highlights

2023 was a year of significant accomplishments for the NSUIC. Partnering with the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Hampton Roads, the center expanded its support for Black and women entrepreneurs. This collaboration enabled local innovators to secure approximately $11.7 million in funding, significantly boosting the Hampton Roads economy. Impressively, 61% of the innovators identify as female, and 93% identify as Black, Indigenous, or Persons of Color (BIPOC).

Curating Relationships

The NSUIC’s mission of democratizing access to funding is driven by strategic partnerships with local businesses, entrepreneurs, mentors, and investors. By exposing underserved entrepreneurs to essential knowledge and resources, the center helps them build businesses capable of attracting substantial investments.

The center’s partnership with SBDC Hampton Roads has been particularly instrumental. Dr. Akosua Acheamponmaa, NSUIC Director, emphasized the importance of this collaboration in fostering innovation and entrepreneurship within the community.

Signature Programs and Community Impact

NSUIC’s educational programs are designed to equip entrepreneurs with the skills and knowledge necessary for success. The ALIGN: Small Business Series, an 8-week course, assists retail operations in growing their businesses through enhanced branding, e-commerce activities, and business growth strategies. The Access to Capital program introduces entrepreneurs to various funding options, including grants, loans, and equity investments.

In addition to its educational programs, NSUIC’s innovative initiatives, such as the 12-Week Business Startup Series and the Innovative Entrepreneur Incubator Program, provide comprehensive support to high-growth, high-potential businesses. These programs help entrepreneurs refine their business plans, develop minimum viable products, and craft investor pitches.

Strategic Goals and Future Outlook

Looking ahead, the NSUIC aims to enhance its capacity to serve even more local entrepreneurs by pursuing strategic partnerships, securing grant funding, and implementing tools for AI and automation. The center also plans to expand its student program offerings, providing practical, hands-on experience in launching and growing startups.

With a strong focus on fostering a robust network between business owners and financial experts, the NSUIC is committed to bridging the gap in financial literacy. The center will continue to be a gathering place where local entrepreneurs and students can build powerful business relationships, access valuable resources, and collaborate to increase their business capacities.

Join the Movement

The NSUIC invites community members, potential donors, and strategic partners to join its mission of empowering underserved entrepreneurs. By supporting the NSUIC, you create a culture of innovation, resilience, and economic impact in Hampton Roads.

For more information, visit their website. A copy of the annual report can be downloaded here.