Hub of Human Innovation develops business ideas in El Paso

Eddie Velazquez, Staff Reporter

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In an effort to foster and develop some of local technology-focused businesses, the Hub of Human Innovation works as an incubator that guides companies through the early stages of growth.

“If you can guide a company through its first five years, it has a better chance of becoming sustainable and growing,” said Ernesto Gamboa, a business consultant for the Hub.

Located at 500 W. Overland Ave., No. 230, The Hub was founded by seven different entities. The Bi-national Sustainability Laboratory, UTEP Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovative Enterprises, Innovate El Paso (Trans Pecos/El Paso Regional Center of Innovation and Commercialization), City of El Paso Economic Development Department, Medical Center of the Americas, Paso del Norte Group, U.S. Mexico Foundation for Science Border Office.

From its inception, the Hub has offered different tangible and intangible services for its clientele.

“We offer one-on-one business support, mentoring, workshops, access to capital, contacts, networking and an affordable office space,” said Leslie Lanier, an administrative assistant for the Hub.

The workshops are open to the public, however, they occur intermittently.

“We have a few series of workshops that are off and on because of scheduling, but we try to put them on at least monthly with different topics and speakers,” Gamboa said.

For UTEP student entrepreneur, junior business major Brandon Walter, the guidance, office space and networking are some useful tools to help his crowd-sourced marketing company Gapplesoft to grow.

“Their mentorship program has opened up a lot of opportunities,” Walter said. “They’ll teach you the things you need to know to make sure you have an idea that has a market for it. Whether I have a meeting or clients trying to close a deal, I can go to the office and have a professional business address.”

The Hub’s initial funding came through a grant from the state of Texas through the energy conservation office.

“Because of that (grant), one of our big focuses was clean energy,” Gamboa said. “It was as if we had two incubators in one, because one had to be focused on clean energy and the other one could work on other projects.”

The grant was awarded to the El Paso incubator, as well as another incubator in San Antonio. However, the state funds came to a halt in 2016. The restructuring in funding affected the Hub in staff size and direction.

“It affected our staffing because it paid for a full-time employee and now that person has left, and we also have interns and part-time contractors now,” Gamboa said.   

Additional funds have been provided by the city of El Paso, private donors, El Paso Electric Company and UTEP.

“Our funders determine who we can help, so on the state and city level, they want us to focus on high tech,” Gamboa said. “We recognize the state of technology in El Paso, so we take a lot of liberties in what tech means.”

Despite the concentration of resources in technology, clients such as an organic foods-focused restaurant Green Ingredient, alternative roofing business El Paso RoofCARE, and tea company Humanitea, have worked with the Hub.

“A lot of people automatically think computers when it comes to technology, but if it is a new product or new innovative service, then we will work with it,” Gamboa said.

The Hub of Human Innovation may be reached at hubofhumaninnovation.org.

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