In 2016, the federal government solicited proposals to launch the Manufacturing USA Innovation Institute, which focused on tissue biofabrication. NH’s very own Dean Kamen, serial inventor and entrepreneur, saw the possibility of building the Granite State's biotech economy. With a team of experts, higher ed, and federal, state, and local partners, the Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute (ARMI) was founded as a member-based, nonprofit organization in Manchester, NH. Its mission is to advance the economy of the United States, and it positively impacts not only manufacturing but also healthcare, education, and workforce development for the nation. ARMI launched BioFabUSA in July 2017, with an $80 million DoD grant. The program now has more than 170 member organizations from industry, academia, and the nonprofit sector.
Gradually, over the past decade, New Hampshire has been building the premier global hub for the emerging biofabrication and regenerative medicine industry. Companies started to join ARMI, and leadership realized that there was a missing piece. Having an idea – even a fantastic science/innovation idea - does not automatically make a successful business, nor does it immediately lead to the commercialization of the product. ARMI needed to find solutions to help its member businesses start, grow, and accelerate their journey to commercialization.
"NH SBDC's business advisor will be an integral part of the BioFab Startup Lab team. We are excited for NH SBDC to bring its in-depth, confidential business management expertise to ARMI’s business affiliates, as well as connections to its extensive network of state and regional resources. We look forward to working together to establish more New Hampshire-based biotech businesses, create jobs, and generate revenue for the state."
ARMI launched the ARMI BioFab Startup Lab with funds from the U.S. Economic Development Authority (EDA), as part of the City of Manchester’s Build Back Better Regional Coalition. Located in the revitalized Manchester millyards, the BioFab Startup Lab translates biofabrication research toward commercialization and, thus, accelerates the time-to-market of regenerative medicine therapies and enables biofabrication technologies.
As a part of the EDA Build Back Better grant, NH SBDC was awarded funds to help support a new Business Advisor in the region for three years. He dedicates approximately 50% of his time to ARMI, BioFab Startup Lab companies, and other biotech ecosystem small businesses.
ARMI’s BioFab Startup Lab portfolio companies receive preferential access to UNHM’s state-of-the-art Biotechnology Innovation Center and our dedicated NH SBDC business advisor to help them develop and grow their business and navigate state and local resources.
Also, the NH SBDC was asked by ARMI to participate in its pursuit of designation of the region as a Regional Technology and Innovation HUB, called “Regen Valley.”
Raude Raychel grew up in Somersworth, NH, with her parents and her brother. Her father, the first Indonesian pastor in New Hampshire, would often open his doors, welcoming fellow Indonesians who had made their way to the Granite State. Those doors were opened at his church and home serving as a welcoming hub to those who needed the resources and support to get settled here
Raychel wanted to turn her past experience of welcoming Indonesian immigrants to New Hampshire into a non-profit organization that could do the same but more. Somersworth, NH, is now the second largest Indonesian community north of Manhattan. Raychel wanted to build an organization that serves as a hub for resources for their stakeholders, including the people in their immediate community, the local government, and their valued collaborators in Indonesia, in order to facilitate mutual understanding among different cultures and values.
"There are a lot of gaps with the community, with the government, the school system, everything. So, our passion, our heart was really how to solve that problem and become a bridge. NH SBDC has assisted ICC in many ways. SBDC provides advising services towards every ICC project by evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of products, services, and events. It’s a win-win thing for both of us."
Connecting with the NH SBDC brought Raychel focus. Her SBDC business advisor helped Raychel design the business model for her non-profit organization and helped set the foundation for the Indonesian Community Connect. Raychel shares, “NH SBDC has assisted ICC in many ways. SBDC provides advising services towards every ICC project by evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of products, services, and events.”
Raychel also said that the SBDC works to help identify and work through problems and opportunities. They provide resources to develop new ideas and relationships, connect potential stakeholders, and offer solutions towards action items.
The Indonesian Community Connect, an NH SBDC client turned partner and friend, has a mission to establish access to information resources, facilitate mutual understanding among different cultures and values, and promote the richness of Indonesian cultural diversity. The ICC focuses on connecting the Indonesian community with the surrounding area through educational and festive affairs that promote the richness of the Indonesian cultural heritage.
Jay and Liz Curcio own The White Apron together. A catering and event company based out of Dover, Jay & Liz work with their team to organize and prepare beautiful, fresh food and great service for every event, every time.
Jay and Liz met through one of Jay’s catering clients. Discovering they had like minds for hard work and passion for culinary, Jay and Liz fell in love first and partnered up later. “She really handles the day-to-day operations, and I handle the food, and we do this with a team of people,” says Jay.
Liz adds, “It ended up working out great, because I had the culinary background so it was easy for me to explain what we offer. And then, in addition, we will raise the standards of our service. So now we have this great marriage of excellent food with excellent service.”
Pandemic closures hit White Apron hard, but they are bouncing back from that incredibly challenging time. In fact, they weathered the COVID storm so successfully that they say they’ve come out better on the other side. In fact, it gave them time to dream, and they decided they wanted to create an event space for their catering clients. However, coming out of COVID, they were especially leery about taking on the project.
"Our advisor was a key person throughout the process. He helped us correspond with the SBA, with our lender, and with others associated with the project. We literally could not have accomplished all that we did (and as quickly) without his expert help. We are excited by all the possibilities that the future holds, and we will continue to work with the SBDC as we strive to make our new venture a successful one."
From the early days of White Apron in 2013, White Apron has had support from their NH SBDC business advisor. Jay and Liz brought their advisor into the discussions early on for the development of Mila, White Apron's event space.
As Liz and Jay worked to purchase a property to service on-site events, their business advisor was instrumental. “Mila by the White Apron” is located at 1 Franklin Street in Exeter, NH. With help from their advisor, Liz, and Jay were able to obtain an SBA 504 loan to help finance the purchase.
“Our SBDC advisor was a key person throughout the process,” said Jay and Liz. “He helped us correspond with the SBA, our lender (Kennebunk Savings Bank), and others associated with the project.”
Their advisor helped them get all the details in order so they could get the financing necessary for the project. They add, “We literally could not have accomplished all that we did (and as quickly) without his expert help.”
Jay and Liz worked closely with their SBDC Business Advisor to bring their concept for the new event center to life, including discussions around employee attraction and retention, a new website, and many other topics.
Mila opened in late 2022 to rave reviews. “Mila,” which means “miracles,” is named after Liz’s grandmother, and as Jay describes it, “is an absolute dream come true for us.” Mila hosts high-end weddings, corporate events, meetings, and the like. Event hosts and attendees discover Mila events offer a fine dining experience with a modern chic vibe.
Thrilled with their latest venture and continued growth, Jay and Liz describe the future of The White Apron as “quite bright.” They go on to say, “We are excited by all the possibilities that the future holds, and we will continue to work with the SBDC as we strive to make our new venture a successful one.”