Silicon Valley Company Plugs Into Cleveland

A renowned Silicon Valley innovation company is coming to Cleveland to help create an accelerator focused on biotech and digital health innovation and attract companies and startups from around the world.

Cleveland Clinic and JumpStart Inc. are teaming up with Plug and Play, the largest accelerator program in the world, in a three-year partnership that will enable the trio to work together in the hopes of attracting dozens of U.S. and international health care startups to Cleveland every year, according to a news release.

The collaboration, which will benefit from the support of The Ohio Third Frontier and other institutions and corporations, is set to be announced this week during Cleveland Clinic’s 2017 Medical Innovation Summit.

“We think and believe that this collaboration between Plug and Play, which is considered one of the world’s most successful accelerators, and the Cleveland Clinic, which is obviously a world-renowned brand, and then JumpStart, is another example of a super meaningful activity that will support entrepreneurs here, but also attract entrepreneurs from all over the world and solidify or continue to build on the brand of Northeast Ohio being such an incredibly meaningful startup ecosystem in addition to having this capability around biotech and digital health,” said JumpStart CEO Ray Leach.

Starting in the spring, the “Plug and Play Cleveland HealthTech Accelerator,” which will be located in about 10,000 square feet of downtown Cleveland’s Global Center for Health Innovation, will operate two cohort programs annually, inviting a group of at least 10 companies every six months. The Clinic will collaborate with up to six of the companies every year to pilot their health care innovations, according to the release.

Ohio-based collaborators, including the Clinic and JumpStart, will work to encourage participating startups to stay in Cleveland upon completing the program.

“There are no guarantees that the companies who come to Plug and Play are going to stay in Cleveland or in Ohio, but we’re going to move heaven and Earth for the ones that we think have the greatest potential to be successful growing here,” Leach said.

JumpStart will continue its focus of investing in Ohio companies and plans to invest in some cohort members who commit to staying in Ohio.

“The more vibrant that ecosystem, the more it helps us do our job, and some of that’s directly and some of that’s indirectly,” said Pete O’Neill, executive director of Cleveland Clinic Innovations.

“If another company in our ecosystem has success, that helps us because it will help attract more entrepreneurs. It will help the investors that were part of that deal think favorably of the next Cleveland-based investment opportunity,” O’Neill said. “It will help attract and retain more employees here in the region, which will again make it easier for the next time we need to go find more employees. All of that, that infusion of momentum is just good for us.”

Plug and Play, headquartered in Sunnyvale, Calif., has 24 other locations across four continents. Its entrance into Northeast Ohio represents its first U.S. location outside of California, O’Neill said. The Plug and Play model connects startups to investors and large corporations. The company maintains ties with 200 leading Silicon Valley venture capital partners who monitor startups in the program when considering future investment opportunities, according to the release.

It maintains a network of more than 200 corporate partners and connects them to accelerator startups directly impacting the partners’ industries. Existing Ohio-based corporate Plug and Play partners include Sherwin-Williams, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., Procter & Gamble, Avery Dennison, Westfield Insurance, Cincinnati Financial, Nationwide and American Greetings.

The accelerator also invests anywhere from $25,000 to $500,000 into more than 150 companies annually. The organization’s accelerator program has its roots in the Plug and Play Tech Center, the Palo Alto office that once housed early tenants such as Google, Danger and PayPal, according to the release.

“We are thrilled to engage Cleveland’s robust health, industrial, and investment community to attract the most innovative digital health startups worldwide to Cleveland,” said Saeed Amidi, Plug and Play’s founder and CEO. “We believe our efforts will accelerate the growth of Cleveland’s entrepreneurial economy through the connections we make between corporations, startups, and investors, creating value for all involved.”

Cleveland Clinic and JumpStart will jointly fund the Cleveland HealthTech Accelerator, along with support from The Ohio Third Frontier. Leaders say they anticipate additional founding partners — including innovation- and commercialization-focused health care institutions, corporations and foundations both in and outside of Ohio — to join the initiative in the future.

BioEnterprise recently was named to lead operations at the Global Center. The Clinic, JumpStart and Plug and Play plan to use the expertise of the BioEnterprise team as they work to incubate and develop companies.

“The addition of Plug and Play to our growing innovation ecosystem is terrific for our County. As we work together to make this region a vibrant and prosperous one, we know that attracting big ideas, innovators and investors is crucial,” said Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish in a prepared statement. “With the addition of Plug and Play to the County’s Global Center for Health Innovation, we have taken another great step towards our goal of robust economic development fueled by innovation.”

This post originally appeared on Crain’s Cleveland Business.