Over the last several years, Northeast Ohio has emerged as a growing entrepreneurial hub that is gaining recognition across the U.S. In fact, according to a ranking from NerdWallet, Cleveland ranked among the top 50 entrepreneurial-friendly cities in the world. This growing recognition is not happening by accident. For more than a decade, Northeast Ohio has been working to foster a thriving entrepreneurial community, with the assistance of countless organizations and individuals. Their support has helped build an environment in which entrepreneurs can excel, which in turn is helping Northeast Ohio grow.
One of the biggest challenges faced by startups is raising adequate capital in order to scale their businesses. To this end, Northeast Ohio companies are progressively securing substantial investments that are enabling them to meet their business objectives. In fact, from 2004 – 2014, $2.3 billion was invested in 412 Northeast Ohio-based startups. While modest when compared to places like Silicon Valley, the amount of venture capital and angel investments coming to Northeast Ohio has progressively trended upward. In fact, the amount of capital invested per year in Northeast Ohio startups from 2004 – 2014 has more than tripled. This is an encouraging sign for Northeast Ohio entrepreneurs who are looking to grow their businesses.
While many factors have played a part in developing Northeast Ohio’s entrepreneurial community, the extensive ecosystem that exists in the region is perhaps one of the greatest contributors. The region has seen accelerated success of startup companies at all stages of development thanks to the effectiveness of JumpStart and 14 other non-profit organizations that form the Entrepreneurial Signature Program (ESP) in Northeast Ohio. ESP is a program that supports and coordinates a network of organizations throughout Ohio to provide capital investments and intensive technical assistance to entrepreneurs and the high-tech, high-growth ventures they build. Supported largely by the Ohio Third Frontier (OTF), these groups have helped nearly 1,000 early-stage entrepreneurs through investments, donating space, technical support and other forms of assistance. As a result, the businesses have created more than 4,000 direct new jobs.
As Northeast Ohio works to support its startup community, the region has also celebrated a number of notable “exits.” In July of 2014, tech giant Oracle officially acquired Northeast Ohio-based TOA Technologies. TOA specialized in cloud-based field service solutions, which was especially impressive to Oracle. While financial terms of the deal were not publically disclosed, the acquisition was viewed as a positive step for TOA and the future of its innovative technology.
Simbionix is another example of a notable exit. The Cleveland-based company produced 3D virtual reality surgical simulation and training systems. Simbionix was acquired by 3D Systems in 2014 for $120 million. Like TOA Technologies, the acquisition of Simbionix was a great win for Northeast Ohio as it further enhanced the region’s reputation as a high-tech hub. Deals like these are highly instrumental in bringing increased attention to Northeast Ohio and our startup community.
As Northeast Ohio continues to cement its place as an entrepreneurial hub, we will likely see even more investments and success stories coming out of our region. Over the last decade, Northeast Ohio has established itself as a community that supports entrepreneurs and we are beginning to see the added benefits of growing an entrepreneur-friendly environment.
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