PRESTONSBURG — Creative minds with an idea for a new product were drawn Tuesday to Jenny Wiley State Resort Park for the i2b conference, to get ideas on how to turn their dreams into business opportunities.
i2b stands for “Innovation + Invention = Business.” Conference organizers included the Morehead State University Innovation and Commercialization Center and Young Professionals of East Kentucky.
Jonathan Gay, director of both groups, was on hand for the event and said he hoped the conference would help jump-start business in Eastern Kentucky.
“We think there are already a lot of people who have ideas for inventions, ideas for innovative business models,” Gay said. “We’re trying to get them to actually go out and take that next step of creating it. And in the process, we’re explaining to them a few of the steps that are necessary — how to protect your idea, how to finance your idea, how to actually take an idea, whether it’s an invention or some new innovation, some new business model, and create a business around it.”
Charles Black, of Charleston, W.Va., is the founder of Black’s Bakeware, which produces a line of non-stick, no-run cookie sheets and will soon offer cake pans and pizza pans. He said the folks at the Innovation Center helped him decide to bring his business to Kentucky.
“I tell you, these guys know what they’re doing,” Black said. “They’ve helped me far more than West Virginia ever did.”
Black says that the Innovation Center helped him clear some hurdles which he would not have known how to get over otherwise. He said the center has helped him with marketing, selecting a business structure, and finding a new manufacturer.
“I don’t know a lot about business, but these guys do,” Black said. “And if they don’t know something, they know people who do.”
During the conference, attendees learned about subjects such as patent law; copyrights, trademarks and branding; creating prototypes; and financing.