ENTERPRISE DEVELOPMENT, INC., a cooperative nonprofit subsidiary of CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIV. and Weatherhead School of Management, is designed to encourage innovation and entrepeneurship in Northeast Ohio. EDI was the result of a 1987 merger of the Center for Venture Development (formed 1983) with university activities, and is an example of attempts to forge closer business-university ties. The organization provides managerial and technical help, maintains a skills and information bank, matches entrepreneurs with investors, and conducts seminars. EDI focuses on businesses with high growth potential and regularly presents conferences and courses on marketing, leadership, and financing for entrepeneurs, senior management, owners of start-up firms, and other members of the region's business community. In 1993, EDI created the EDI Innovation Awards to recognize innovation in the region. The awards have since become an annual event that acknowledges businesses, non-profits, and government agencies in Northeast Ohio who implement new methods of operation or develop new products or services. More recently, EDI has developed the Enterprise Scholars Program, designed to provide real-world experience for Weatherhead MBA students.
EDI has also been very active in commercializing research in the region. In 1996, EDI established, along with the NASA LEWIS RESEARCH CENTER, the Lewis Incubator for Technology (LIFT). Designed to encourage entrepeneurs and new companies in developing businesses based on technologies created at the NASA Lewis Research Center, LIFT receives funds from Lewis, the Ohio Dept. for Development, and EDI, to provide below-market laboratory and office space to new firms and is an example of the types of public/private partnerships that EDI claims can help the region's economy. In addition to LIFT, EDI also manages two other technology incubators: CAMP BUILD, which is designed to encourage manufacturing and technology-based businesses, and the Edison BioTechnology Center, which seeks to commercialize biotech research. Anticipating major growth the field of biotechnology, EDI announced in 2001 that it would establish (with CWRU, the CLEVELAND CLINIC FOUNDATION, and UNIV. HOSPITALS OF CLEVELAND) a Cleveland Biotechnology Park. Once completed, the facility would be headquartered in University Circle at 11000 Cedar Ave and, like LIFT, would provide affordable workspace to start-up firms.
In 1999, Diann M. Rucki, who received her MBA from Weatherhead, replaced the original president, Richard Gray, as head of EDI. By the end of 2003, EDI annouced that it would be consolidating operations with NEOpreneur, Inc.- an outgrowth of NorTech (a local organization of business and technology leaders). The merger would combine EDI's effort to serve as a business incubator and NEOpreneur's aim to provide grants and mentoring assistance to start-up companies in the region. In keeping EDI's regional emphasis and close relationship with academic institutions, seats on the board of the new organization were to be set aside for representatives from Univ. of Akron and Case Western Reserve, CLEVELAND STATE, Kent State, and Youngstown State Universities.