Entrepreneurship across Ohio - Getting It Done - Part 3
If you’ve missed the first two parts of ‘Getting It Done’ - check them out: Part 1 on BioEnterprise and JumpStart Ventures, and Part 2 on JumpStart TechLift Advisors and JumpStart Inclusion Advisors. And, here’s Part 3 — highlighting two more organizations doing incredible work to help fund our region’s startups.
The Inovation Fund was formed in 2007, with funding provided by the Third Frontier Entrepreneurial Signature Program and the Lorain County Community College Foundation, and administered by the GLIDE Incubator. It plays a key role in Northeast Ohio’s early-stage funding climate.
How it works: The Innovation Fund provides early-stage funding to qualified technology companies in the form of grants (‘A’ grant — $25,000) and repayable grants with a funding replenishment right (‘B’ grant — $100,000). Both require the awarded company to provide an educational experience to a local university. The process is competitive, and is collaboratively administered by GLIDE, JumpStart TechLift Advisors, Youngstown Business Incubator, the University of Akron Research Foundation, and a high quality selection committee. It serves the entire 21 county Northeast Ohio region, a real show of vision by the president of LCCC, Roy Church.
Results: The Innovation Fund has shown significant results since its start in late 2007 — making 38 grants to 35 companies totaling $2.075 million. Many of those companies have gone on to receive funding from somewhat later-stage structures like JumpStart Ventures, the North Coast Angel Fund, and Series A venture investors. They have received 210 applications from 15 of 21 counties in Northeast Ohio. The educational experiences at these companies have ranged from internships to teaching classes and research associate positions.
Why it works: The Innovation fund works because it provides funding just when it’s needed. It helps make Northeast Ohio to offer funding options to qualified companies at all levels of the entrepreneurial spectrum. GLIDE and the LCCC Foundation have done a remarkable job of creating a highly effective, region-wide structure that collaborates with multiple organizations and entrepreneurs.
The North Coast Opportunities Technology Fund began in 2008, jointly announced by Cuyahoga County and JumpStart TechLift Advisors. It is a great example of a public/private partnership that works to enhance the entreprneurial and technology climate in Northeast Ohio.
How it works: North Cost Opportunities Technology Fund (NCO) is yet another vehicle to provide very early-stage funding ($50,000 — $125,000) to venture capital fundable companies located in Cuyahoga County. It makes loans that “feel like venture capital” to back a specific project designed to bring the company demonstrably closer to the next level of funding. Highly competitive company selections are made by a team from JumpStart TechLift Advisors, the MAGNET Incubator and Cuyahoga County. The unique loans are administered by the county.
Results: NCO has made six investments, from nearly 60 applicants, and has $480,000 in capital put to work. A seventh company has been selected for investment, and is in the works. NCO’s companies have already shown progress: Tremont Electric has received significant national press, SparkBase has doubled its employment, and CitizenGroove has received significant follow-on funding. Most importantly, the collaboration shows that Cuyahoga County is visionary in its plans for technology development.
Why it works: Like the Innovation Fund, NCO works because it provides critical funding to put early-stage companies in position to achieve the next level of funding. The project structure ensures that the relatively modest amount of funding is used wisely, and in a way designed to achieve results.
Chris Mather is the President of JumpStart TechLift Advisors. Previously, he managed a number of technology initiatives in Northeast Ohio for NorTech. Before entering the economic development world, Chris ran a number of technology companies in Northeast Ohio and New England, including Ion Optics Inc., where he raised $6.7 million in venture capital, and Apsco Inc. and Gould Instrument Systems. Prior to that, he spent 13 years in sales, marketing and management roles with Hewlett Packard after graduating from Worcester Polytechnic Institute with a BS in Electrical Engineering.