New iHub Space Encourages Local Entrepreneur Collaboration

The University of Louisville Foundation has opened a downtown work-space  called “iHub” for local entrepreneurs and innovators working on a tight budget.

Local and state officials celebrated the opening of the new downtown iHub Tuesday.

It’s a 2,200 square foot building offering young start-up companies or businesses a spot for $80 a month. The idea is to give entrepreneurs a space where they can conduct business and also collaborate, said Mayor Greg Fischer.

This, he said, is important in the early phases of starting a business.

“What iHub will do is there will be 20 other people around you that might be going through that same thought process from time to time. And there will be somebody there to pick you up and buck you up and challenge you at the same time to say you can do this, you’ve done it before, we’ve done it, let’s go get after it,” said Fischer.

Fischer has made it a priority to expand business in the Louisville region. Over the past decade the number of adults between 25 to 34 earning a college degree has increased by 5.8 percent. And while the region has grown its young professional population, it still lags in competitive wage growth and the number of jobs available.

The iHub, which hopes to grow competitive businesses, is not a new conception. There are hundreds of spaces like this around the United States and the idea was encouraged after visiting a similar space in Boston. 

It sets in motion a process that is too often left to chance, said Gov. Steve Beshear. For example, he explains, Procter and Gamble were brothers in law, Hewlett and Packard met at a college football tryout. But iHub will help those not so lucky develop and harvest their ideas.

“It’s where some of Kentucky’s best and most innovative can work, can network, and can form relationships that will help their businesses succeed and grow,” said Beshear.

Renters will also have the chance to participate in monthly meetings, classes and mentoring sessions.

President James Ramsey said because U of L is one of two research universities in the state, it also has a responsibility to harvest innovative thinking.

“That all has to start somewhere. And it starts with our faculty, but then getting it to the commercial stage and getting it to that marketplace has to start somewhere and that somewhere is right here,” he said.

Officials say there are already 14 individuals committed to participating. They further say they hope some successful entrepreneurs will consider moving to U of L’s larger business incubator being built across the street on the former Haymarket site.

That project is expected to be complete in May of next year. 

Devin Katayama

Devin Katayama host middays for WFPL and reports on education and other Louisville issues.

@DevinWFPL

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