The GDC said the grant will help expand its program for entrepreneurs, which they hope to turn into the state’s premier pre-accelerator program for startups.
As a program located in the heart of Greer, Platform at Greer is designed to promote a culture of entrepreneurship and help local business owners thrive. This two-day immersive program strives to help take businesses to the next level through a selective, fast-paced intensive course that participants consistently describe as one of the best things they've ever done for themselves or their business, said the GDC.
Greer Development Corporation Executive Director Reno Deaton, who oversees Platform at Greer, said the curriculum is based on Stanford Design Thinking principals and the final part of the program is to present a pitch to a panel of judges “Shark Tank” style to help receive funding. The panel of judges includes professional innovators.
“It requires companies to take action with a low-risk, low-expense program to help move their companies forward,” said Deaton.
The grant will expand the bootcamp, which is one of the five events under the platform and the first event to launch when the program started in 2019. Forty-two companies have gone through the bootcamp since its inception, and the Platform at Greer has served close to 1,000 entrepreneurs and innovators since then, said Deaton.
“We feel strongly about the positive benefits that come from this program, first and foremost the Greer community being seen as one that is entrepreneur and innovator-friendly,” said Deaton. “We have the opportunity to attract new businesses and keep the current ones in place, and to nurture and grow some of these companies in their early stages of development, which in turn will lead them to be job creators. We think that’s remarkable.”
The S.C. Department of Commerce announced on Feb. 8 its 2023 Relentless Challenge grant recipients, which totaled more than $750,000 granted to 15 organizations around the state.
Relentless Challenge grant recipients support projects designed to enhance the state’s innovation ecosystem — specifically in the areas of high growth entrepreneurship, talent development, access to risk capital, and industry and higher education partnerships that may lead to commercialization of innovative products.
“South Carolina’s emerging industries are a direct result of our talented workforce and an environment that fosters innovation,” said Secretary of Commerce Harry M. Lightsey III. “Congratulations to all of the grant recipients on their innovative programs that will create unique opportunities and advance the lives of South Carolinians.”
Since 2013, S.C. Commerce has awarded more than $8.1 million, supporting more than 65 local innovation projects. Available grant funds that are uncommitted in any grant cycle are carried forward for future innovation projects.
Greer has been fortunate in terms of opportunities that have come their way, with new businesses, recruiting and the good work that is done with programs like this, said Deaton.
“The culture it creates in making Greer a community that continues to raise the bar,” he added. “Programs like this attract more companies who will consider Greer as their place to work, to expand their companies, to pay higher wages, and we also have the opportunity to help startups with such brilliant ideas, companies that are motivated in a passionate way. To be a part of their journey is really rewarding. We have a wide array of companies and products that come through here, and it’s fun to see it all come to life.”
The 15 recipient projects are:
- Advanced Technology International (ATI) — Enhancing the Support Structure for Cyber Security & Computer Science Workforce in SC Underrepresented Minorities
- Benedict College — Burroughs Enterprise, Startup & Technology Innovation Lab - Burroughs Enterprise, Startup, and Technology (B.E.S.T.) Innovation Lab
- Clemson University-Sonoco FRESH @Clemson University — Clemson University Compostable Packaging Research Development & Innovation (Cu-CPRI)
- Coker University-Center for Leadership & Entrepreneurship — Pee Dee Innovation
- eMYRge — Hustle Beach: Finding and Fostering Our Founders
- Gravity Center — Entrepreneurial Mindset Profile® Program Launch
- Greer Development Corporation — The Platform @Greer Bootcamp: South Carolina’s Pre-Accelerator
- GrowCo Columbia — Business Acceleration for Future Columbia High-Growth Entrepreneurs
- NEXT Upstate — Rising Through the Ranks: SC as an Entrepreneurial Hub with Data
- ONESpartanburg — Spartanburg Area Entrepreneur Ecosystem Project
- SC Association of Colleges and Employers — Rev UP SC
- University of South Carolina Office of Innovation, Partnerships and Economic Engagement — South Carolina Rising: A New Pre-Seed/Seed Fund
- University of South Carolina Columbia Technology Incubator — Columbia Innovation Media Studio Expansion and Outreach
- University of South Carolina, Columbia - Faber Entrepreneurship Center - Moore School of Business — Faber Entrepreneurship Center Opportunity Workshops
- Webgryrlz Code — Software Engineer Bridge Program.