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Scaling up: Design and prototype center at Boise State grows talent pipeline to Idaho industries

Left to right: Grey Beaudry, New Product Development Lab specialist, and Zachariah Vandeventer, TechHelp student design engineer. John Kelly photo.

TechHelp, a service that supports Idaho manufacturers, food processors and entrepreneurs, and a partner of Boise State, was awarded a $1.5 million grant through the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s national 2020 Venture Challenge Competition. TechHelp was one of 29 organizations selected for this award from a pool of 417 applicants nationwide.

The grant was matched by TechHelp collaborators for an additional $1.5 million to expand a much-needed talent pipeline to industries in Idaho, as well as provide a career on-ramp for student employees who manage the center’s projects and operations alongside engineering professionals and entrepreneurs.

The funds will jumpstart TechHelp’s South Idaho Design-Prototype Center (SIDPC) project, a planned three-year collaboration with Boise State’s College of Engineering and College of Business and Economics, Southwest Idaho industry partners, and the Southwest Idaho Manufacturers’ Alliance. The center will scale up the New Product Development Lab located on the Boise State campus, which has fueled workforce development, entrepreneurship and economic growth in Idaho since 2001.

John Kelly photo.

“TechHelp’s positive impact on the manufacturing community of Idaho is very impressive,” said Mark Bannister, dean of College of Business and Economics at Boise State. “Over the past year, TechHelp clients have reported 886 new and retained jobs and over $180 million in sales, savings and investment economic impacts as a direct result of working with TechHelp. The SIDPC should amplify its impact and assist the state of Idaho in its rapid economic recovery.”

The additional funding also will boost recruitment to engage rural students, companies, and first-generation and Idaho vocational technology college students. These students will continue to be trained to move real-world projects from concept through designing, prototyping and refining product ideas in the newly renovated, larger space.

Over the years, student employees of the lab have not only secured full-time employment upon graduation but have demonstrated critical influence in building regional and national entrepreneurial companies, such as Rekluse, Sapidyne, Lovevery, Melni Connectors, Coyote Design, Rapid Rope and more.

“We are excited and honored to have received this award and look forward to building a showcase innovation partnership that will grow opportunities in product development, advanced manufacturing, education, and entrepreneurship for Idaho companies, students and faculty,” said Steve Yano, TechHelp’s new product development manager.

Zachariah Vandeventer, TechHelp student design engineer. John Kelly photo.

About TechHelp

TechHelp is a member of the MEP National Network™, providing technical and professional assistance, training and information to Idaho manufacturers, processors and entrepreneurs who strengthen their global competitiveness through continuous product and process innovation. More information can be found at