‘You Can Absolutely Be World-Class in Youngstown’: Youngstown Business Incubator named best in the world

The Youngstown Business Incubator was named the number one university associated business incubator in the world by the UBI Index on Tuesday. YSU President Tressel was on hand at the celebration marking the incubator’s achievements. Photo by Justin Wier/The Jambar.

Tuesday morning, UBI Index held a global announcement event at the Youngstown Business Incubator, naming it the top university-associated business incubator in the world.

Jim Cossler, CEO of the Youngstown Business Incubator, accepted the award.

“What I hope this award does is put in the mind of everyone: You can do it here. You can absolutely be world-class in Youngstown. You don’t have to leave,” Cossler said.

UBI Index is a Swedish research institute that specializes in analyzing the performance of business incubators around the world. They do this using a framework that consists of several metrics focusing on incubators that create economic impact, provide value for emergent companies and consistently produce success stories.

Ali Amin, CEO of UBI Index, and Dhruv Bhatli, UBI Index director of research, conducted the event, which was streamed live to 67 different countries.

“Youngstown does really, really well on a number of indicators. Amongst those, economy enhancement indicators and access-to-network indicators,” Bhatli said.

Amin reinforced the focus on the role the networks Youngstown Business Incubator has cultivated played in their decision.

“Jim Cossler and the team at Youngstown Business Incubator, they have a tremendous network that all startups can get access to, and that network has helped them along in many ways — not just with market opportunities, but for mentoring and coaching,” Amin said.

Martin Abraham, current dean of Youngstown State University’s College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics and newly appointed interim provost, said the incubator provides incredible opportunities to students at YSU.

“[The award] means that as a student at YSU, you will have the opportunity to work with entrepreneurs that are world class, best in the world,” Abraham said. “You have an idea for doing something? We know the folks and we work with the folks that can help you develop that idea, commercialize that idea and make a business out of that idea. It’s an unparalleled opportunity.”

Jim Tressel, president of YSU, also spoke at the event.

“It is a little overwhelming standing here. I’ve stood at a podium before when they said you were the best in the country, but I have never stood at a podium where the recognition was that Youngstown Business Incubator, along with the university partners, are recognized as the best in the world,” Tressel said.

Tressel said the community members that believed in the incubator and what it could do for the city and the university deserved a lot of credit.

“It’s extraordinary recognition of a lot of years of great effort. A lot of our alumni were a part of the ascension to this number one position,” Tressel said.

Cossler reflected on the early days when it was difficult to sell people on the idea.

“I remember when the staff was just myself and another person back in the summer of 2001, and we told the community, ‘We’re going to launch world-class software companies into global markets from downtown Youngstown,’” he said. “There weren’t many people in the community that believed that.”

Cossler said Youngstown Business Incubator has no plans to become complacent in the wake of success.

“I guess next year we’re going to be zero-point-five or something,” he said. “We’re not giving up. We’re going to work every bit as hard tomorrow.”