A boost for business

KENNESAW, Ga. | Mar 1, 2017

New IgniteHQ headquarters opens doors for entrepreneurs

Kennesaw State University joined Cobb County leaders Tuesday in opening a facility where entrepreneurs can work to make their business ideas come to fruition.

IgniteHQ, north Georgia’s premier business incubator and accelerator, celebrated the grand opening of its headquarters at 57 Waddell Street, about two miles from Kennesaw State’s Marietta Campus. The 20,000-square-foot building is leased by the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia on behalf of KSU, replacing the temporary office space in Kennesaw that IgniteHQ had occupied since its launch in 2015.

“This is very exciting,” said IgniteHQ Executive Director Mark Hubbard. “We are going to be doing amazing things in the coming years.”


In partnership with Kennesaw State University and collaboration with the Cobb Chamber of Commerce, IgniteHQ identifies, develops and offers resources startups and businesses of all sizes need to grow and succeed. IgniteHQ provides entrepreneurs space to conduct their business and access to educational programming, mentoring, advisory services and collaboration opportunities.

“The whole purpose of IgniteHQ is to provide an entrepreneurial path for KSU students and faculty looking to impact the community by creating businesses around research and ideas,” Kennesaw State President Sam Olens said. “If we have our students and our faculty engaged in the process, the community is the winner.”

The IgniteHQ grand opening coincides with Kennesaw State’s developing several initiatives, partnerships and community outreach programs in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields. Olens also pointed out that two University scientists recently received federal grants totaling more than $700,000 for developmental biology research into autism and birth defects, and last year New Echota Biotechnology was the first company to emerge from the business incubator program.

“IgniteHQ is coming on right at the time when that research is blossoming and we have more and more faculty who want to be a part of starting new companies,” Olens said. “This is where we can really take advantage of our entrepreneurial spirit.”

John Cohran, a junior from Hiram majoring in mechatronics engineering, is one student already taking advantage of IgniteHQ’s resources. Cohran and fellow KSU student Paul Ngalle co-founded TreeCabin, a streaming service that makes textbooks available online.

“I see a ton of talent and a bunch of great minds all over both (Kennesaw State) campuses, and IgniteHQ goes hand-in-hand with that,” Cohran said. “It’s awesome that students are able to take patents and turn them into companies, being able to partner with Kennesaw State and come to IgniteHQ and create their company from that original idea.”

Cohran credited the business incubator with connecting him with potential partners and investors for TreeCabin. He added that the office space and amenities provided by IgniteHQ are invaluable to a startup company like his.

“It has been so helpful because, with agile software development, the key is that you have to meet face-to-face,” Cohran said. “IgniteHQ really has provided us with the area to facilitate that. It feels like home.”

Olens and other officials thanked state Rep. Earl Ehrhart for his support of IgniteHQ.

“I was excited to support it because it was unique,” Ehrhart said. “We have other accelerators in the state, but here we’re going to be supporting these student-led ideas. We have so many things that are happening at KSU.”

Cobb Chamber CEO David Connell echoed Ehrhart’s sentiment about the uniqueness of IgniteHQ. He encouraged the local business community to participate in the initiative as mentors or sponsors.

“There is not another one like this in the state of Georgia,” Connell said. “When we started this, the intent was to share the model we’re using with other universities around the state so they can replicate it.”


— Paul Floeckher

Photo by Lauren Lopez de Azua


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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 43,000 students. Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia with 11 academic colleges. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.