Spokane Journal of Business

WSU’s Center for Innovation, SP3NW merge operations

SP3NW now can give support to companies in most industries

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April Needham, left, and Michaele Armstrong say the combined organization will be able to serve a broader range of industries.
April Needham, left, and Michaele Armstrong say the combined organization will be able to serve a broader range of industries.

Washington State University’s business incubator SP3NW has merged branding and resources with the university’s Center for Innovation in a move that will change the operating model and expand programming for most industries, says SP3NW director April Needham.

She says the organization will be hosting monthly pitch-practice events for members, a bootcamp in the fall or spring, and more support and training that entrepreneurs need to launch a scalable company.

The Center for Innovation was formed to offer foundational support for entrepreneurs who were in the idea stage. SP3NW was launched as an incubator for established life science companies.

Needham says the center previously provided market research, value proposition to test potential customers, and helped startups develop business models.

“We had kind of a nice flow of clients through both programs,” she says.

SP3NW will now operate under a tiered membership model, starting at $95 monthly, similar to other incubators across the country.

The membership provides a physical space, Wi-Fi, a wet lab, and additional services, such as executive adviser matching, student consultants, design and engineering guidance, startup advice, networking events, monthly coaching meetings, and pitch practices.

Armstrong says the merged programs will operate under the SP3NW brand because of the established brand recognition.

Needham says SP3NW currently works with six startups and is looking to attract additional businesses in the Spokane area.

“Right now, we definitely have room to take on at least six more companies and to manage that support,” says Needham.

SP3NW now occupies 1,200 square feet space within Center for Innovation building at 120 N. Pine, in Spokane’s University District. Needham says the space is five times as large as its previous office. The incubator grew from three hot desks, which are shared desks that members can use, to nine hot desks and soon will add equipment for a wet laboratory incubator space available to members.

“Within the first eight months, we had supported the launch of over 22 different companies. At this point, we’re almost 2 1/2 years into SP3NW and we’ve supported 55 companies. There’s definitely a large demand,” says Armstrong. “Considering that we haven’t had an official launch of the merged membership model, and we have six members, and we actually have two more interested … we’re in a pretty good spot for growth.”

Erica Bullock
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Reporter Erica Bullock has worked at the Journal since 2019 and covers real estate and construction. She is a craft beer enthusiast, who loves to garden and go camping with friends.

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