15 Years of Driving Job Creation and Growth in Northeast Ohio

While Innovation Fund Northeast Ohio was established in 2007, its history extends back even further. In 2001, Lorain County Community College (LCCC) partnered with the Lorain County Chamber of Commerce and Lorain County Commissioners to open an incubator on the LCCC campus. Great Lakes Innovation and Development Enterprise (GLIDE) was established to further the community-wide grow-your-own vision and strategy and advance economic development throughout the region.

Over time, it became apparent that limited access to capital was a significant barrier to growth for many entrepreneurs. The LCCC Foundation began engaging the philanthropic community to raise capital for a new fund that would provide entrepreneurs with resources to grow their businesses at the earliest stages of development when other investors and sources weren’t an option. The resulting Innovation Fund was established in 2007 with the distinct goal of providing the funding entrepreneurs at this stage needed while also educating the next generation of entrepreneurs.

As the fund demonstrated its success, it drew the attention of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, which awarded $1 million to the LCCC Foundation to take the Innovation Fund model and replicate it at community colleges across the country. Three Innovation funds were established throughout this pilot phase — each with its own accomplishments:

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Innovation Fund North Carolina

Catawba Valley Community College
  • 13 companies
  • $425,000 in funding

Innovation Fund Southern California

Long Beach City College
  • 4 companies
  • $175,000 in funding

Innovation Fund Southeast Michigan

Macomb Community College
  • 31 companies
  • $1.6 million in funding
  • $5.3 million in follow-on funding
  • 497 students engaged

These pilot-phase funds provided pre-seed funding to many companies in their respective regions and have now come to a close. Today, Innovation Fund Northeast Ohio remains the primary source of first-in financing for young technology startups. Learn more about our fund and goals. If you’re an entrepreneur that’s developing a new concept or are ready to put an existing solution to the test in our market, we invite you to learn more about our funding finding process and apply today.

Lorain County Community College

Lorain County Community College, a comprehensive community college serving more than 17,000 students annually, supports its community through the four cornerstones of its mission: educational, economic, cultural, and community growth. The college’s focus on innovation and entrepreneurship has led to its emergence as a regional leader in economic development.

Lorain County Community College Foundation

The Lorain County Community College Foundation enhances its community member’s quality of life by investing in key Lorain County Community College priorities that present the greatest impact and growth opportunities for the people of our community. LCCC has been rated as one of Ohio’s top community colleges; its foundation provides the margin of excellence.