Entrepreneurism in Northeast Ohio

As I have often over the past decades,  earlier this month I visited Northeastern Ohio  including my hometown of Berea.  This trip I added two more days to my personal investment in the Cleveland business startup scene.

It isn’t well known that, for its size, and notwithstanding its industrial, rust belt heritage and inland location, Cleveland has a vibrant and growing entrepreneurial ecosystem.  Case Western Reserve University (“Case” refers to the former Case Institute of Technology) and the 40,000 employee Cleveland Clinic each have active licensing and spinout programs.  Several tax supported non-profits are targeted at providing support to early stage companies.  There is a handful of incubators including three profiled in the resource list below.

According to serial entrepreneur Charles Stack, founder of the incubator Flashstarts and a lifelong resident of Northeast Ohio (NEO), NEO has several attributes that are  favorable to businesses, particularly to new businesses, when compared with, for example, California:  low costs of real estate and people; traditional midwestern traits such as loyalty and the value placed on the social fabric;  it’s a good place raise a family with a decent pace, a superb arts community, and striving professional sports team.

Participants in Northeast Ohio (NEO) startup ecosystem include:


Baldwin Wallace University Center for Innovation and Growth (CIG)
CIG’s mission is to teach students to compete in a turbulent economy. The focus is on recognizing their passions and learning how entrepreneurship creates opportunities when governed by personal integrity.

Case Western Reserve University.

The CWRU Office of Research and Technology Mangemement  (TTO) serves CWRU innovators with full-spectrum intellectual property services. For both faculty and students, we provide intellectual property- and commercialization-related support that spans the research & development continuum. We serve our researchers by assessing and building upon the commercial potential of new ideas and inventions. Through interaction with our inventors, regional and national networks – including our affiliate healthcare systems – and potential commercial partners, we endeavor to determine the best path of translation and ultimate commercialization for university intellectual assets.

At CWRU, the Weatherhead School of Management offers undergraduate, graduate, and professional education in management.  Faculty member Scott Shane studies, writes, and teaches entrepreneurship and innovation management.  Weatherhead is headquartered in the spectacular Peter B. Lewis Building, designed by Frank Gehry.

Quite a building with a backstory to match!

Quite a building with a backstory to match!

Kent State University Office of Corporate Engagement and Commercialization
The Office of Corporate Engagement and Commercialization (OCEC) builds and expands long-term relationships with industry, leading to new research and development funding and innovative technologies for commercialization and economic development.

University of Akron Patents and Licensing
Akron is proud of its creative and talented faculty, staff and students, as well as a nationally recognized research foundation that facilitates licensing, collaboration and new venture creation through an open and easy process.

Other Non-Profits

BioEnterprise is a business formation, recruitment, and acceleration initiative designed to grow healthcare companies and commercialize bioscience technologies. Based in Cleveland, BioEnterprise’s founders and partners are Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals, Case Western Reserve University, Summa Health System and Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron.

Cleveland Clinic Innovations
Cleveland Clinic Innovations (CCI) is the commercialization arm of Cleveland Clinic. CCI turns the breakthrough inventions of Cleveland Clinic employees into patient-benefiting medical products. The creation of new business opportunities allows CCI to deliver Cleveland Clinic’s unique capabilities into the commercial market, while aiding in the economic growth of Northeast Ohio and beyond. CCI facilitates an inclusive entrepreneurial environment where invention is fostered as an activity in which all can participate – physicians, nurses, researchers, administrators, etc. CCI’s comprehensive approach includes sophisticated deal teams, domain experts, investment funds, executives-in-residence, allied investors, seed and technology validation funds, incubation, preclinical and prototype facilities – all poised to create companies and commercially deploy new medical technology.

The beautiful, calming fountain at the Clinic's main patient entrance.

The beautiful, calming fountain at the Clinic’s main patient entrance.

Since 2000, 66 companies have been enabled by Cleveland Clinic technology and expertise; nearly three-quarters of these companies have received more than $750 million in equity investment to date.

Established in May 1983 as a 501c(3) nonprofit organization, JumpStart Inc. is a venture development organization that connects, advises and assists thousands of entrepreneurs each year across Northeast Ohio. JumpStart also serves as an investor, focused on significantly accelerating the development of the area’s most promising early-stage ideas and companies that in turn boost the region’s economy.

NorTech is a technology-focused organization that strengthens Northeast Ohio’s economic vitality by accelerating the pace of innovation in the region. Nortech’s expertise in emerging industries to foster an innovation environment that provides companies of all sizes, higher education and research institutions, and individuals of diverse backgrounds with new opportunities for collaboration that create jobs, attract capital and have long-term, economic impact.

Aligned with Northeast Ohio’s strategic focus on emerging industries, Nortech targets industries not addressed by any other intermediaries: advanced energy, flexible electronics and water technologies.


Bizdom was founded by serial entrepreneur Dan Gilbert, Founder and Chairman of Quicken Loans and Rock Ventures. Bizdom’s mission is to help provide the support and resources necessary for aspiring entrepreneurs to get their businesses off the ground in Detroit and Cleveland. Bizdom is a nonprofit organization. One hundred percent of the returns on our investments are recycled back into Detroit and Cleveland to launch more startups!

Flashstarts is a Cleveland-based business startup accelerator and venture fund focused on unique and innovative uses of software and technology. Startups benefit from Flashstarts’ executive team’s deep expertise in Enterprise and Healthcare IT, Gigabit Fiber Applications, mobile and digital publishing and media. Flashstarts’ rigorous 12-week summer accelerator program is powered by rapid cycles of feedback and iteration, customized guidance from dedicated coaches, an extensive network of top-tier, experienced mentors and an award-winning intern program.

Cleveland Rocks!  This sign in honor of R&R pioneer and entrepreneur Alan Freed, is just a door or two down from Flashstarts's building.

Cleveland Rocks! This sign in honor of R&R pioneer and entrepreneur Alan Freed, is just a door or two down from Flashstarts’s building.

The mission of LaunchHouse is to create a hub of entrepreneurial innovation for promising startups and to help transform ideas into successful companies. LaunchHouse manages a growing portfolio of innovative startups. It focuses on promising entrepreneurs and ideas that have a high growth potential, and that can quickly achieve market validation with a ‘small’ financial outlay.


North Coast Angel Fund
North Coast Angel’s mission is to accelerate technology start-up success and improve the state of early-stage funding in Ohio.

Ohio Venture Association
The Ohio Venture Association is a group of northeast Ohio business people dedicated to providing an atmosphere for the interchange of ideas on entrepreneurship, new ventures and venture capital. The Association provides a scheduled forum for this interchange.

In a future post I’ll report on the first NEO Entrepreneur Expo held in early April, in which I was a participant.

About Krist

Companion of Wally who is featured at MrWally.com. More at https://www.linkedin.com/in/kristjake/
This entry was posted in Entrepreneurs & Entrepreneurism, Start-ups. Bookmark the permalink.

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