Incubator offers foothold for international firms
Minimal risk, long-term success.
Chorus Intelligence Ltd., a British software company that sells products and services for law enforcement investigations, had these goals in mind when it set its sights on the U.S. sales market. With the help of a new Virginia Beach incubator focused on supporting international businesses, Chorus is gaining a foothold in Virginia and beyond.
Chorus is one of two companies at the incubator, which opened in September 2021. Laura Hayes Chalk, business development coordinator for the Virginia Beach Department of Economic Development, calls the incubator a minimal-risk avenue for international enterprises to test U.S. business waters. For global companies to be successful here, a physical presence helps, she says.
The move could boost the city’s economic development efforts.
Much of Virginia Beach’s business recruitment is “boots on the ground,” Chalk says. “It’s our goal, when we are working with a company or a large headquarters, that they one day will have a large presence in Virginia Beach. You have to have a starting point.”
Companies commit to two years at the incubator, located in five office spaces and a conference room at Virginia Beach’s Town Center. The first six months are rent free. Then, rent increases every six months until it hits $28.25 per square foot, the yearly market rate. Companies also get access to several benefits, including legal and financial services, and connections to universities and workforce groups.
With two firms in the incubator as of late May, the city is considering renovations to accommodate more companies.
The incubator is working for Chorus, which wants access to the large pool of U.S. law enforcement clients, says Neil Chivers, chief sales officer.
“Access to a bigger market would inevitably drive sales success,” he says. “Operating in the U.S. successfully also gives more credibility to the business and helps underpin the objectives for our shareholders.”
Chorus chose Virginia Beach because of its large law enforcement presence, strong technology job market and ease of travel to the United Kingdom.
It moved six employees, out of 65, into two spaces totaling 400 square feet in November 2021. Chorus now has clients in Virginia Beach, New Jersey, South Carolina and Florida.
Chorus plans to stay in Virginia Beach, with the city’s police department serving as a reference for its products.
“This move is pivotal to our success in the United States,” Chivers says.