June 3, 2014: The Innovation Fund, Northeast Ohio's most active early-stage fund for technology-based startups, announced five funding awards totaling $275,000 in its latest funding round. Three companies received $25,000 awards aimed at validating technologies and two received $100,000 awards meant to prove out business concepts.
The Innovation Fund received 33 applications this round and selected nine companies to present to the decision making committee. The rigorous application process mirrors that of an angel or venture capital investor's and helps prepare entrepreneurs to raise additional capital.
"We have perfected this process over the years, making certain it's both efficient in moving the most qualified applicants through and effective in teaching entrepreneurs how to view their companies from an investor's perspective," said Dennis Cocco, director of operations for the Innovation Fund and co-director of GLIDE, the incubator that administers the fund.
The ability to attract later-stage funding is a key factor in selecting Innovation Fund awardees. For every dollar the Innovation Fund has awarded, its portfolio companies have raised 18 times that amount.
"We don't invest a big amount of money but we invest at a critical time that enables entrepreneurs to take that small investment and prove they've got something worthy of additional investment," Cocco said.
The startups receiving Innovation Fund awards are:
Flexible ITO Solutions ($100,000 | Hartville)
Flexible ITO Solutions (FITOS) produces patterned electrodes on flexible transparent conductive films for the electronics industry. The company has developed a groundbreaking method to controllably crack the ITO conductive coatings by bending the flexible films.
Paragon Robotics ($100,000 | Euclid)
Paragon Robotics is a manufacturer of wireless data acquisition and control products that improve the energy efficiency of buildings and processes. paragonrobotics.com
Blackwolf Tactical ($25,000 | Cleveland)
Blackwolf Tactical's training platform allows police to turn any physical location into a reactive training environment triggered by the actions and decisions of the officers. Real-time analytics from every point of engagement are captured for future benchmarks and analysis.
InfoGPS ($25,000 | Mansfield)
InfoGPS is disrupting the traditional IT Risk and Security markets by using current technologies and a proprietary process to discover and enumerate sensitive information on personal networks. The company's real-time index details exactly where information assets are stored, when they move, who is accessing them, and if changes occur.
Red5Pharma ($25,000 | Cleveland)
Red5 Pharmaceuticals LLC is developing novel diagnostic assays that prospectively determine whether a patient will respond to chemotherapy. Its technology enables a personalized medicine approach to chemotherapy— the customization of patient healthcare by tailoring specific treatment decisions and practices to an individual.
With these awards, the Innovation Fund has made 153 funding awards to 127 companies totaling $8.31 million.
About the Innovation Fund
The Innovation Fund, founded by the Lorain County Community College Foundation, is Northeast Ohio's most active early-stage fund. It awards technology-based startups up to $100,000 so they can validate their technologies and business concepts. The Innovation Fund averages six funding awards each quarter and fills the capital needs of businesses at the earliest stage of development, before they can attract angel and venture capital funding. Innovation Fund awards are made with funds from the Ohio Third Frontier, which have been combined with matching support and contributions from the Innovation Fund partners. These partners include the University of Akron, the University of Akron Research Foundation, Cleveland State University, the Great Lakes Innovation and Development Enterprise (GLIDE), the Lorain County Community College Foundation, Stark State College, Youngstown State University, the Youngstown Business Incubator, and Northeast Ohio Medical University.