TOLEDO — A collaborative organization involving local companies and universities, including Bowling Green State University, has received an $8.7 million award to support technology start-ups.
NextTech, which is comprised of ProMedica, Mercy Health, the University of Toledo and BGSU, was awarded the grant as the Entrepreneurial Service Provider for Northwest Ohio by the Ohio Third Frontier Board.
According to a release, the grant includes the calendar years 2017-18.
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 Services Agency. The Northwest Ohio ESP will serve an 18-county region.
“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, in the release. ProMedica is the lead applicant for the ESP.
The release stated that 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.
Each of the participating organizations brings an area of expertise to the ESP, and will have active roles in the delivery of technology commercialization services.
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 in the release. “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 to work and access to potential investors, as well as connecting them with business advice and patent protection.
Mercy Health will have responsibilities including helping manage the assessment of a portfolio of innovations and to help identify opportunities with commercial potential.
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.
The release said that, 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 entrepreneurial talent and attract venture capital firms and other investors.
“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, ProMedica’s chief innovation officer/strategic business development, and lead for developing the request for proposals 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.”
The release states that, 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.