Funding Location

Eligible counties are highlighted.

Funding Options

Funding Option A - Grant

  • A | $25,000 grants

    A level grants help entrepreneurs validate new technologies. They’re for entrepreneurs who have an idea, but need to prove the technology works. Founders typically use the funding to develop or test a prototype, file patents, or get clinical trials started. After the grant period ends, entrepreneurs should be ready to apply for the $100,000 funding level. 

Funding Option B - Non-Collateral Loan

  • B | $100,000 non-collateral loans

    Up to $100,000 B level awards help entrepreneurs validate their businesses. They’re for entrepreneurs who have developed a technology, probably have a working prototype, and are now ready to test the business model they’ve created around the technology. Most often, this funding is used to acquire first customers, market test products, make key hires, and advance product testing. This money needs to be matched dollar-for-dollar and repaid if the business is successful.

Funding Requirements

  • We are a different kind of fund, focused on education and economic growth. With this approach in mind, we require our entrepreneurs to:

    • agree to our mentoring process
    • provide educational experiences to students at Lorain County Community College or a partner university
    • raise more money to keep their companies growing
    • keep their businesses in Northeast Ohio

Sectors We Focus On

  • We invest in companies that have innovative and cutting-edge technologies in one of Northeast Ohio’s high growth industry sectors:

    • Advanced Materials
    • Aeropropulsion
    • Agribusiness
    • Fuel Cells/Energy Storage
    • Medical/Healthcare Tech
    • Sensing & Automation Tech
    • Shale
    • Situational Awareness & Surveillance
    • Software Applications
    • Solar Photovoltaics
    • Other

Counties We Invest In

  • We invest in companies that are located in or willing to relocate to one of the following Northeast Ohio counties:

    • Ashland
    • Ashtabula
    • Carroll
    • Columbiana
    • Crawford
    • Cuyahoga
    • Erie
    • Geauga
    • Holmes
    • Huron
    • Lake
    • Lorain
    • Mahoning
    • Medina
    • Portage
    • Richland
    • Stark
    • Summit
    • Trumbull
    • Tuscarawas
    • Wayne

Upcoming Dates

Innovation Fund Northeast Ohio is always accepting applications. Here are the deadlines you’ll need to meet to be considered for our upcoming funding cycles.

Open Application

12/21/15

Financial Requirement Due

3/5/16

Application Deadline

3/15/16

Open Application

3/16/16

Financial Requirement Due

6/5/16

Application Deadline

6/15/16

Learn More At An Info Session

Join us for a free informational session to learn more about Innovation Fund Northeast Ohio.

Thursday, February 18, 2016 at 1:00 pm / Lorain County Community College

If you’re thinking about applying to Innovation Fund Northeast Ohio, you should drop in on a free info session where we explain the ins and outs of our application process. We’ll also highlight some of the region’s most effective entrepreneurial support organizations.

Reserve Your Seat

Northeast Ohio Portfolio Spotlight

“Being an entrepreneur is filled with ups and downs and having mentors to hold you accountable keeps you on course. Together, we’ve built a sustainable and scalable business model and we’re on the cusp of a transformation.”

- Lindsay Simms, Founder of CustomerBOOM


Customer BOOM helps entrepreneurs and small business owners communicate their messages using social media. They help companies to clarify and communicate their brands and educate customers on why they should buy. Customer BOOM recently launched its software in a private beta and had been getting amazing feedback from their clients.

“The Innovation Fund’s application process alone forced us to think about our business from a new standpoint. We realized what we needed to do to make it successful and the roadmap for how we would get there."

- Jeff Taylor, Founder of Event 38


Jeff launched Event 38 after realizing he could produce high resolution, georeferenced maps with a drone he built in his living room. He opened a web store and began selling hand-built units. Today Event 38 serves five distinct industries in 49 countries around the world.

“Innovation Fund Northeast Ohio’s initial financing and mentoring helped us build prototypes, hire more employees, and raise follow-on investment.”

- Pat Leimkuehler & Punkaj Ahuja, Founders of Apollo Medical


Apollo Medical’s low-cost blood testing system, developed at Case Western Reserve University, requires only a single drop of blood to measure eight parameters. The company is wrapping up its beta prototype and will soon begin clinical testing at some Cleveland area hospitals.

“The Innovation Fund Northeast Ohio’s money allowed us to develop our product and manufacture here. And the mentorship helped us identify opportunities and effectively manage expectations with investors and customers. Paired together these things helped us immensely, especially in the early stages.”

- Chris Wentz, Founder of EveryKey


While other access control products on the market today solve one problem or another, Everykey brings it all together. Its single, wearable device replaces the plethora keys and passwords that people use today.

Meet Our Mentors

Some call them serial entrepreneurs, financial wizards, patent gurus, and business professionals. We call them dedicated individuals who help our community’s entrepreneurs succeed. They’re experts in their fields and they are here to help at every turn.

Cliff Reynolds

GLIDE

Cliff Reynolds

GLIDE

 As Co-Director of GLIDE, Cliff is responsible for the planning, organizing, and directing of all GLIDE’s activities. Cliff’s responsibilities include managing support services for entrepreneurs including first level assessments, a comprehensive resource network and providing business counseling to GLIDE client companies. In 1984, Cliff co-founded DIY Home Warehouse, a regional home improvement warehouse retailer. Cliff served as President and Chief Executive Officer. The Cleveland-based startup grew to 16 stores, 1,800 employees, and $220 million in annual sales. He led the executive management team through a $25 million NASDAQ IPO. Through the years, he implemented strategic initiatives to reduce the impact of competing national warehouse chains. In addition to managing all business development, Cliff led activities pertaining to real estate, merchandising, operations, finance and marketing. In 1993, DIY was selected #5 in Forbes Magazine – Best Small Companies in America. Prior to joining GLIDE, Cliff founded Chatham Consulting, LLC, which helped privately held companies to analyze product mix, advertising programs, expense structures and administrative overhead. Previously, Cliff held a senior level VP position at Eclipse Industries, Inc., a regional home improvement warehouse retailer located in St. Louis, MO. While in this position, he was instrumental in growing the business from 4 retail locations to a 9-unit chain. He was a member of the Executive team responsible for increasing sales from $15 million to $60 million. A native of Boston, MA, Cliff earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Western New England College in Springfield, MA. Cliff has been involved with Youth Sports, Indian Guides, and has been very active in his church. He and his wife, Mary, live in Hudson, Ohio. They have two married children and four grandchildren.

Dennis Cocco

GLIDE

Dennis Cocco

GLIDE

 Dennis Cocco is Co-Director of GLIDE and responsible for developing marketing and technology-based business strategies in support of GLIDE. His responsibilities include identifying and recruiting technology-based start-up companies to locate within GLIDE, which is an Ohio Edison Technology Incubator. He also coordinates the delivery of Entrepreneurial Expert services in support of the Entrepreneurial Signature Program as well as providing support services for entrepreneurs and providing business counseling to GLIDE client companies. Dennis Cocco was Vice President, Investor Relations and Communications of PolyOne Corporation, a leading global polymer services company, headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio. At PolyOne and its predecessor companies, Geon and BFGoodrich, he was the company spokesperson for inquiries from the news media, prospective investors and analysts. He also had responsibility for communications with government officials and legislatures to make certain the company’s views were heard regarding legislative bills that can affect the future of PolyOne employees. His more than 37-year career included product and application research and development, as well as technical service and marketing. He served various business management roles including being named Director of Marketing. His experience also includes three years with Exxon Mobile Research and Engineering, and ten years with Diamond Shamrock Dennis graduated from Ohio University with a B.S. degree in Chemical Engineering. He has authored various papers including contributions to the Encyclopedia of Packaging and the Journal of Vinyl Technology. He was a member of the SPE (Society of Plastic Engineers) Vinyl Division Technical Program Committee and served in the past as secretary and chairman. He is also an active member of the Ohio Polymer Strategy Council, the National Investors Relations Institute, board member and past president of the Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity and current member of the board for the Great Lakes Science Center.

Nancy Ernstes

GLIDE

Nancy Ernstes

GLIDE

Nancy Ernstes is responsible for assisting entrepreneurs working with GLIDE and the Innovation Fund to develop pro-forma financial statements that reflect the monetary success of their business. Nancy's responsibilities include developing and updating a financial model that is easy to use and understand by the business owners, assisting them with actually doing their financials so that they reflect their business model, and helping them to understand what the financials mean for their business. She was Director of Finance for several businesses at PolyOne Corporation, a leading global polymer services company headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio. At PolyOne and its predecessor companies, Geon and BFGoodrich, she was responsible for budgeting, forecasting, and overseeing and analyzing the financials for the overall operation of those businesses. Through her twenty-eight year career there she was involved in all financial areas of the company including the purchase and sale of businesses, corporate analysis, and accounting. Prior to Nancy's corporate career she was a math teacher for five years in Gary, Indiana. A native of Indiana, Nancy earned several degrees from Purdue University: B.S. in mathematics, M.S. in Secondary Education, followed by an MBA. She is involved in several women's business organizations and mentoring programs. She enjoys playing golf where she got a hole in one this year. She and her husband enjoy participating in craft shows and wine festivals where they sell hand-made tiled cork trivets and wine glass holders.

Russ Donda

BioEnterprise and GLIDE

Russ Donda

BioEnterprise and GLIDE

Currently serving as the Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EIR) for medical device and biosensor technologies at GLIDE, BioEnterprise and JumpStart, Russell Donda has more than 25 years of management experience at both executive and entrepreneurial levels. As an EIR, he helps company founders assess the commercial feasibility of their technology; with that feasibility confirmed, he assists in creating and implementing their development plan and ushers them through the local seed funds. Among other projects, Russ was the founding CEO and chairman of the board for ViewRay Incorporated, (www.viewray.com), a company developing a novel form of radiation therapy. It was subsequently venture funded by Aisling Capital, Fidelity Biosciences, Kearny Venture Partners, OrbiMed Advisors and Siemens Venture Capital (SVC) GmbH. Russ was a founding member of and co-chair of investment review for the Emergent Growth Fund, LLC (www.emergentgrowth.com), an angel investment fund focused on technology businesses. Additionally, he was a founding manager of and spearheaded business development for the allograft implant company, Regeneration Technologies, a privately held, for-profit spinout of The University of Florida Orthopedic Tissue Bank which went public (www.rtix.com).

John Rastetter

GLIDE

John Rastetter

GLIDE

John provides oversight for the Innovation Fund’s award agreements and quarterly reporting for the fund. He advises applicants on their business strategy and the overall application process. He works with the Innovation Fund award recipients to finalize their award agreements and project milestones. He has 39 years of experience in various financial positions focused on manufacturing operations, budgeting, forecasting and strategic planning. Prior to his retirement in 2009 he was Treasurer for a Fortune 500 company located in the greater Cleveland Ohio area.

Robert Sopko

Youngstown Business Incubator

Robert Sopko

Youngstown Business Incubator

 Bob assists growing high tech startups as an EIR at YBI and JumpStart.

Gene Groys

Youngstown Business Incubator

Gene Groys

Youngstown Business Incubator

 Gene Groys is an Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EIR) at the Youngstown Business Incubator. He has also served as the founder and CEO of CareIntel, which created a technology to manage the continuity of a patient’s clinical data as they transition across different care environments. Previously he was also the founder of OnShift, a JumpStart portfolio company that today has grown to over 50 employees and provides staffing and labor management software to long-term care and senior living providers across the U.S.  Gene has worked hand-in-hand with hundreds of healthcare providers, helping them achieve financial, operational and clinical goals as part of their overall staffing and patient management initiatives. His work experience spans leadership positions at both startups and Fortune 500 organizations, in the areas of customer implementation and services, mobile computing and product management. Gene has also presented at numerous industry conferences, is a member of the Ohio Health Care Association (OHCA) Quality Commission and serves on the board of the Ohio Person-Centered Care Coalition (OPCCC).

Chris Mather

Tech Belt Energy Innovation Center

Chris Mather

Tech Belt Energy Innovation Center

After 25 years of executive management and technology sales & marketing in industry,  Chris Mather has had the opportunity over the past ten years to be involved in the development of one of the best entrepreneurial ecosystems in the U.S., and in the design and implementation of creative, unique and impactful  technology-based economic development programs.  

In 2004, Chris entered the world of technology-based economic development, for what he planned to be a “2 - 4 year gig”. In his nearly 10 years of work in economic  and entrepreneurial development, he has been a very successful entrepreneurial coach, has formed entrepreneruial  support structures, developed funding structures and helped lead communities to effective entrepreneurial development.  He performed in executive roles  directly for NorTech and JumpStart, both nationally recognized ED organizations.  In 2010, he officially formed Leveragent, but his consulting work has taken place at various time since 1998. 

Chris’s 25 year industry career includes significant sales, marketing and executive management roles in the technology industry.  He spent 13 years in sales, marketing and management at Hewlett Packard Company, focused on the test & measurement, microprocessor development and computer businesses.  He also held sales/marketing management positions at Denmark Based Bruel and Kjaer Instruments and Analogic Corp.  

Chris held a number of executive and general management positions from 1993 through 2004.  He was General Manager of the SmartWare Division of American Power Conversion, President of the ThermoSpectra Test and Measurement group, which included Gould Instrument Systems and a division of Nicolet Instruments, and CEO of Apsco International, Ohio’s largest electronic manufacturing services provider, now a part of U.K.-based TT Electronics.  Chris raised $6.8 million in venture capital for Ion Optics Inc., which is now part of FLIR Systems.

He has served on the boards of the Ohio Fuel Cell Coalition, the Cleveland Engineering Society, CWRU’s Institute for Management and Engineering, the Nanotechnology Alliance and a number of technology companies.  

Chris holds a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

Northeast Ohio News

Our portfolio companies are making headlines. Read the latest news on all our current and former entrepreneurs and their businesses.

About

Innovation Fund Northeast Ohio was founded by the Lorain County Community College Foundation in 2007 to fill the capital needs of Northeast Ohio startups at the earliest stage of development. We think like investors, but our return on investment is a little different. We support startups so they can impact our economy and inspire future innovators.  

Partners

Northeast Ohio Vital Statistics

For more than a decade, we’ve been bridging the gap between passions and pursuits. And much like the businesses we help create, numbers define our success. That’s why we’re proud of every accomplishment we’re a part of.

d
+150
Companies
c
+500
Jobs
b
+$10M
In Funding
e
+195
Internships
Partnered with