Who makes the investment decisions and provides the support services?
The Innovation Fund is administered by the Great Lakes Innovation and Development Enterprise (GLIDE). Investment decisions are made in two steps and decided on by two committees. First, the Innovation Fund Screening Committee (SC) reviews all the applications received during a quarterly cycle. This committee is comprised of members from GLIDE, the University of Akron Research Foundation, the Youngstown Business Incubator, Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED), Stark State College, Cleveland State University, and support from the JumpStart Entrepreneurs-in-Residence. Next, the applications that make it through the initial screening processes are presented to the Innovation Fund Committee (IFC) for a decision on funding. The IFC is comprised of approximately 20 members who have a wealth of private sector experience related to technology and business start-ups. They include members of the Lorain County Community College Foundation Board of Directors, University of Akron and the University of Akron Research Foundation, Youngstown State University, NEOMED, Stark State College, Cleveland State University and representatives from JumpStart.
Are there Innovation Fund success stories?
As of March 2014, the Innovation Fund has made more than 160 investments totaling more than $9 million. Innovation Fund portfolio companies have since raised $150+ million in follow-on funding, created more than 475 jobs, and offered over 165 internships.
Do applicants have to have intellectual property?
No, but it helps. Many companies choose to keep their “secret sauce” a trade secret which is fine. But investors look more favorable to businesses with patents because they know it represents protection from competition and has a tangible value.
Are Innovation Fund portfolio companies required to operate only in Northeast Ohio?
Yes. Eligible applicants must be currently located or willing to locate within the Northeast Ohio 21-county region.
What does the Innovation Fund mean by “early-stage”?
Our awards fall into a certain spot in the investment continuum, which we define as “early-stage.” Here’s where our investments live within the whole:
How does the Innovation Fund define innovative?
An innovative company has created a unique value proposition based on a product offering that is uncommon or nonexistent in the marketplace. In some instances, this may involve creating an entirely new market rather than just a unique product.
What does it mean for an entrepreneur to be coachable?
A coachable entrepreneur is willing to meet with Innovation Fund mentors and business advisors, and accepts advice, feedback and constructive criticism.
Does the Innovation Fund limit investments to technology companies?
Yes. We’re looking for innovative and cutting edge technologies or new applications for existing technologies that advances Ohio’s high growth industries sectors as defined by the Ohio Development Services Agency:
Aero Propulsion & Power Management
Fuel Cells & Energy Storage
Sensing & Automation Technologies
Situational Awareness & Surveillance Systems
Software for Business & Healthcare
Shale/Unconventional Oil & Gas
How often can I apply?
If you own more than one business you can only apply for one company at a time during a cycle. You can only apply for one award at a time, either an A award or a B award—not both. And if you've received an A award you must wait at least six months before applying for a B award.
If you apply for either award and don't get it, you can reapply the following cycle, but you must submit a new application and financial statements.
How long does a business have to use the funds?
A-Level portfolio companies are expected to use their award within six months. B-Level portfolio companies are expected to use their awards within twelve months.
What investment agreements are Innovation companies required to sign?
All Innovation Fund portfolio companies must sign standard agreements that include customized milestone based payment schedules and enhanced educational experience requirements. B-level portfolio company agreements also include a Fund Replenishment Rate schedule.
Does the Innovation Fund have a specific template for developing and submitting financial information?
Yes. These forms are available for download on your dashboard, which is accessible after you register an account. Instructions on your dashboard will walk you through selecting the right forms and how to complete them.
Does the Innovation Fund provide guidance regarding what should be included in applicant pitches?
Yes. We will provide a detailed outline of the requirements for your pitch presentation. Typically presentations are done via PowerPoint or PDF format. We will provide the technology, you provide the pitch!
If I'm invited to pitch to the Innovation Fund, who should attend with me?
We expect the company (co-)founders to lead their pitch sessions, but other employees are welcome to attend.
Does Innovation Fund provide support to applicants for developing their financial projections?
Yes. Innovation Fund will assist applicants in developing their assumptions and financial projections, as well as coach applicants on how to present and defend their models.
Why does Innovation Fund require financial forecasts?
As part of their due diligence process, investors require financial projections and the underlying assumptions. Startup founders should be able to create, understand, and defend the balance sheets, and income and cash flow statements for their startups.
Enhanced Educational Experiences
How do portfolio companies meet their enhanced educational experience requirements?
All Innovation Fund portfolio companies are required to give back to their community by offering educational experiences to students. A-level portfolio companies may satisfy their requirements by giving presentations or guest speaking at student events; offering classroom or online instruction through lectures, practicums, or independent study projects; doing informational interviews or providing job shadowing opportunities. B-level portfolio companies must provide a paid student internship. You may utilize a portion of your award dollars to pay for the intern.
Are there any restrictions on student interns?
Students participating in paid internships should be enrolled at an institution of higher education and are subject to all applicable local and federal labor laws. Student internships should last one semester (approximately 160 hours), with interns working approximately 10 hours per week for a minimum wage of $10/hour. Portfolio companies are expected to develop a scope of work for the internship that allows the intern to engage in and understand the inner-workings of a startup.Innovation Fund will work with portfolio companies to develop and document internships in order to meet all program requirements.
May applicants apply for both A-Level and B-Level awards?
No. Applicants are required to apply for the award they feel is most appropriate given their stage of development.
How many projects can applicants submit?
Applicants may submit one application per investment cycle.
How often does the Innovation Fund make investments?
The Innovation Fund makes quarterly funding awards. Usually we’re giving out between $300,000 and $400,000 to five to seven companies.