NW Ohio receives $8.7 million to support technology start-ups

by Sylvania AdVantage Staff

NextTech, a collaborative organization comprised of ProMedica, Mercy Health, The University of Toledo and Bowling Green State University, was awarded an $8.7 million grant as the Entrepreneurial Service Provider (ESP) for northwest Ohio by the Ohio Third Frontier Board. The grant includes the calendar years 2017 – 2018.

The ESP program available through Ohio Third Frontier offers a network of entrepreneurial services and capital to help accelerate the growth of early-stage Ohio technology companies. Ohio Third Frontier is part of Ohio Development Agencies. The Northwest Ohio ESP will serve an 18-county region.

Having an ESP is essential to the northwest Ohio economy, and is significant for the Ohio economy overall. With this in mind, the leadership and boards of ProMedica, Mercy Health, UT and BGSU committed to working together as the region’s ESP.

“As anchor institutions in our communities, we are wholly committed to investing in, growing, generating jobs, creating investment capital and strengthening our region and Ohio by fostering inclusive technology entrepreneurship,” said Randy Oostra, ProMedica’s president and CEO. ProMedica is the lead applicant for the ESP.

High-tech companies in northwest Ohio have lagged significantly in capital raised and jobs created over the last several years. NextTech will be focused on helping enhance connections to assets in the region as well as access to capital and talent in an inclusive environment including women, minority and rural populations. One key initial area of focus for NextTech is to help ensure resources are focused on high potential companies that have critical business needs not currently being sufficiently addressed.

In addition to its new Collab-Lab, BGSU will engage with a wider, broader and deeper range of potential entrepreneurs.

“This is an outstanding collaboration for northwest Ohio that will help to build a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem in the region,” said BGSU President Mary Ellen Mazey. “We look forward to leveraging our strengths in education, arts and sciences, digital arts, computer science and data sciences to launch new businesses.”

UT will continue to help researchers launch start-up companies by providing space for working and access to potential investors, as well as connecting them with business advice and patent protection.

“UT is proud to work together through this community partnership to build technology entrepreneurship in the region,” UT President Sharon L. Gaber said. “As a research institution, the University is fostering and developing new ideas every day to make life better. From new medical devices and therapeutic medicines to advanced manufacturing innovations and software breakthroughs, our faculty and students are coming up with creative ways to solve problems, and we look forward to inspiring more commercial success stories through UT LaunchPad Incubation and our Technology Transfer office.”

Mercy Health will have broad responsibilities including helping manage the assessment of a portfolio of innovations and to help identify opportunities with commercial potential.

“As innovators in healthcare across northwest Ohio for 162 years, Mercy Health’s desire is to not only focus from a healthcare end in creating new technologies and opportunities but also ensure the community as a whole benefits through job creation and positioning northwest Ohio for growth moving forward,” said Imran Andrabi, M.D., president and CEO, Mercy Health. “Mercy Health is proud to collaborate with these organization through the ESP program and work together for the benefit of all who live and work here.”

ProMedica will continue to support biomedical innovators and entrepreneurs from across the region and will work to ensure that there will be greater visibility for commercialization activities as well as the breadth of opportunities.

As the ESP for the region, NextTech will be prepared to provide services including institutional technology commercialization, venture development services and enterprise development services, as well as cross-cutting activities like branding and marketing support. Offering these services will help develop a diverse pool of entrepreneurial talent, attract venture capital firms and other investors, and help support and enable company operations.

“The vision for NextTech is to create an ecosystem which consistently generates high-tech, high-wage jobs and opportunity in northwest Ohio,” said John Pigott, M.D., FACS, ProMedica Chief Innovation Officer/Strategic Business Development, and lead for developing the RFP response to the Ohio Third Frontier. “The mission is to drive a technology-based start-up environment through a broad and inclusive entrepreneurial community in northwest Ohio by providing intensive business commercialization services to prepare companies for funding and sustainability. “

As part of the collaborative effort between the partnering organizations, a governance structure has been developed to ensure that conflicts of interests will be eliminated.

Key agencies in the region, including the Toledo-Lucas Country Port Authority, Regional Growth Partnership, Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Toledo Development Corporation (22nd Century Committee recently transition to DTDC), are supportive of NextTech and feel it is critical for northwest Ohio to have an ESP.