Five technology startups in Northeast Ohio will keep growing thanks in part to the Innovation Fund. The companies won between $25,000 and $50,000 from the region’s pre-seed fund and their founders will use the money to test technologies, improve products, and hire employees.
The founders met at Lorain County Community College last week to share their startup stories and celebrate the progress they will make with the money.
“As an innovative, early-stage company, we’re trying to provide a unique service to a market that doesn’t know about us and how we can help them,” said Michael Gilkey, chief executive officer of Trailhead Biosystems. He and co-founder Jan Jensen launched the Case Western Reserve University spin-out in 2015 to commercialize a new platform for cell therapy, but the software they’re using is made for industrial manufacturers, not cell biologists.
“Doing this right and effectively is critical. We can reduce our project turnaround time and costs with software improvements and the Innovation Fund money will help us tailor the software and replace a lot of the tedious analysis that we’re doing manually.”
Steve Moeglin will begin the FDA approval process for his company’s vision treatment for stroke victims. “We’re working on a pilot study that will get us ready for FDA testing and submission,” Steve, co-founder of Ocellus Vision Therapy said. “With the funding, we can hire the people we need to complete the early stages of the process.”
Here’s the full list of companies that won awards this quarter and how they’ll use the funding:
Sell Hack ($50,000 | Chardon) is a platform built for sales professionals who want to spend more time closing deals and less time finding leads, building lists and guessing emails. The company will use the money for product development, marketing, and key hires. more
Markers ($50,000 | Cleveland) is an enterprise software application that lets publicly listed companies have more fluid conversations with their internal and external stakeholders. The funding will help the company further automate and streamline its onboarding process. more
Trailhead Biosystems ($25,000 | Cleveland) merges developmental biology with cutting edge hardware, and computerized experimental design and analysis to develop optimized cell therapy recipes. Trailhead is using the money to enhance its software’s capabilities and replace its manual analysis. more
Ocellus Vision Therapy ($25,000 | Hudson) is commercializing a therapy that lets stroke and traumatic brain injury victims recover vision loss that was once considered a permanent condition. The company will use the funding to begin FDA approval. more
Wisr ($25,000 | Rocky River) is an online solution founded by education technology veterans to engage untapped alumni by allowing students to create and curate a personal board of career advisors. The funding will help Wisr move into the beta phase of its software and to get feedback from pilot clients. more
Innovation Fund Northeast Ohio is the region’s most active and successful 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.
Entrepreneurs can learn more about the Innovation Fund, its entrepreneur friendly funding, and the application process on Thursday, November 17th at a free event in Akron. Learn more and register.
Pictured in the photos above: Mark Shee, Barb Frustaci & Steven Moeglin of Ocellus Vision Therapy (left image); Michael Gilkey of Trailhead Biosystems (center image); and Reginald Cash of Markers (right image)