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Advantage Valley Innovators Advancing the Way We Live

This West Virginia region is a prime destination for world-class research and entrepreneurial enterprises.

By Bill Lewis on November 22, 2021

Robert C. Byrd Institute in Huntington, WV
Robert C. Byrd Institute

Advantage Valley innovators don’t just produce many of the products that make modern life possible, from fuel-efficient automotive engines and lightweight vehicle components to plastics and chemicals. They also are pursuing innovations that hold the promise of making life even better tomorrow.

Why Advantage Valley?

The region is a destination for world-class research and entrepreneurial enterprises looking for a creative environment coupled with lower cost
and a top-notch quality of life.

The Advantage Valley region is advancing innovation in areas such as energy, chemicals, financial technology, technical engineering and software, thanks to its standout collection of research organizations and colleges and universities. Those assets include the Robert C. Byrd Institute (RCBI) in Huntington, a leader in additive manufacturing technology development.

Another research organization, The Mid-Atlantic Technology, Research and Innovation Center (MATRIC), is an independent, nonprofit research firm that includes lab and pilot plant testing facilities. MATRIC serves clients around the globe and is headquartered in the innovation ecosystem of the West Virginia Regional Technology Park in South Charleston. More than two dozen organizations have operations at the 258-acre campus, where they employ about 1,000.

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Delivering Expertise in Manufacturing

At RCBI, innovation is a daily event. In a typical month, RCBI works with 80 clients. It provides technology solutions to meet the specialized needs of everyone, from startups and entrepreneurs to family-owned small businesses and Fortune 500 companies.

From technical training and online networking to high-tech manufacturing equipment access and quality-implementation assistance, RCBI’s services are provided by staff members who collectively have more than 750 years of manufacturing expertise, says Director and CEO Charlotte Weber.

“This expertise and advanced manufacturing equipment, which includes the latest 3D printing technology, enables RCBI to help clients overcome the most difficult manufacturing challenges.”

Charlotte Weber | RCBI

Clients come for the staff’s expertise and advice as well as hands-on access to millions of dollars’ worth of sophisticated manufacturing equipment.

“The innovation focus at RCBI starts with our staff members’ experience, which is concentrated to allow clients to have hands-on access to the $21 million-plus in leading-edge manufacturing equipment, encourage and support supply chain expansion, offer early-stage funding opportunities and cultivate a workforce that is technically skilled and shop-floor savvy,” Weber says.

Numerous Advantages Attract Innovators

Technology-oriented innovators are also attracted by Advantage Valley’s lower cost of doing business, access to talent and proximity to major universities, including Marshall University, the University of Charleston and West Virginia State University.

Research organizations and higher education assets, such as the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine at Marshall University and the West Virginia University’s School of Medicine campus in Charleston, bring skilled talent to the region from across the world.

Did You Know?

The College of Engineering and Computer Sciences at Marshall University
is home to one of very few advanced material testing labs in the nation, according to David A. Dampier, the college’s dean.

And Weber notes that innovators, like those supported by RCBI, are at the heart of the Advantage Valley economy and quality of life.

“RCBI serves as a catalyst for the economic development and diversification of West Virginia’s industrial base. We lower the cost and time involved in starting a business, developing a product or educating and training a company’s workforce,” she says. “We meet the specialized needs of all stages of companies – from startups and small businesses to major manufacturers – so they can turn inventive new ideas into products that they can market and that will have an impact so their businesses contribute to economic expansion.”

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