Innovative X wants to be a hotbed.
The movement, founded by Daryl Gibson in partnership with Manufacturers' Association of South Central Pennsylvania, consists of a website and a monthly meeting, both free. The goal is to encourage the development of ideas by connecting individuals and companies and resources — initially here, but potentially across the world.
"We have such manufacturing capabilities here, and they need various production runs," Gibson said. "Why not partner them up?"
The initial meeting in July drew idea generators, service providers and investors, according to Gibson.
"If I was an investor, I would be very interested in this group and want to learn about very early-stage developments," he said. "We've got all kinds of technologies represented."
A chiropractor just interested in expanding her business probably wouldn't belong at Innovative X, Gibson said, but one who had an idea for, say, a new style of treatment bench certainly would.
"The major crucial factor will be to establish momentum, to generate enough interest so people understand this truly is a resource," he said.
Mike Smeltzer, executive director of MASCPA, said the association has been keeping an eye on the emergence of entrepreneurship and innovation for several years and trying to determine how it could help. There was not, he said, an organized support mechanism for those people to tap into.
“At our annual meeting this year, I announced that the Manufacturers’ Association was going to build an innovation resource network, not independently but in collaboration with the elements in the community that had an interest,” Smeltzer said. Then Innovative X came along, and “the answer was an obvious yes.”
“We’re talking about economic development in its purest sense,” he continued. “We have now built an innovative resource network where people can communicate with, tap into, and seek out mentoring, pathways, funding, technology development and resources that will partner with them to pursue their dream. I couldn’t have asked for a whole lot more than that.”
Particular strengths of the model, Smeltzer said, are that it offers a process, not just an isolated event, and that it has the ability to adopt and mentor individuals who are at various stages in the development process.