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UT part of regional team awarded $4.37 million to support tech startups

The University of Toledo partnered with ProMedica, Mercy Health and Bowling Green State University to form the collaborative regional organization called NextTech to help generate high-tech jobs by supporting startup companies.

Last week the Ohio Third Frontier Board awarded NextTech a $3.75 million grant as the Entrepreneurial Service Provider for northwest Ohio for 2017-18. With matching funds from all four partners, the total amount available for NextTech’s 18-county region will be $8.7 million.

At the press conference to announce the establishment of NextTech Thursday were, from left, Dr. John Pigott, director of innovations at ProMedica; Dr. Frank Calzonetti, UT vice president of research; Dr. Michael Ogawa, vice president for research and economic engagement at Bowling Green State University; and Matt Sapara, vice president of advocacy and government relations at Mercy Health.

The Entrepreneurial Services Provider 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 University of Toledo will continue to help researchers launch startup companies by providing space to work and access to potential investors, as well as connecting them with business advice and patent protection.

“The University of Toledo 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.”

“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 president and CEO. ProMedica is the lead applicant for the project.

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 concentrated on high-potential companies that have critical business needs not currently being sufficiently addressed.

Each of the participating organizations brings an area of expertise to the project, and will have active roles in the delivery of technology commercialization services.

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

“As innovators in health care across northwest Ohio for 162 years, Mercy Health’s desire is to not only focus from a health-care 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,” Dr. Imran Andrabi, president and CEO of Mercy Health, said. “Mercy Health is proud to collaborate with these organizations through the Entrepreneurial Services Provider program and work together for the benefit of all who live and work here.”

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 Dr. John Pigott, chief innovation officer for ProMedica. “The mission is to drive a technology-based startup environment through a broad and inclusive entrepreneurial community in northwest Ohio by providing intensive business commercialization services to prepare companies for funding and sustainability. “

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 Corp., are supportive of NextTech.