USC high tech incubator to close

Friday June 07, 2002

LOS ANGELES – After six years of nurturing high-technology companies, the University of Southern California is closing is incubator program known as EC2. 

The project helped more than two dozen companies get their start, including Womesnwire.com and GameWorld Technologies. It was funded by the school’s Annenberg Center for Communication, which also used the project to research the effect of communications technology on society. 

Executives at the incubator said the closing was prompted by failing investment yields as well as the collapse of the dot-com market, which made the project less relevant. 

EC2 stood for Egg Company 2, referring to the center’s hope of hatching new companies. It opened in 1995 and gave budding businesses work space and access to technology. 

The closing comes as high-profile, for-profit incubators have also shifted focus or collapsed after the companies they spawned failed on their own. 

Pasadena, Calif.-based Idealab is fending off a lawsuit filed by high-powered investors, just two years after its founder, Bill Gross, became a paper millionaire by helping to launch such Web companies as EToys. 

While Idealab’s investors can’t recoup the devastating losses of the past two years as companies such as EToys failed, they are trying to regain some of the money still left in Idealab’s coffers.