The Orthopedic Capital of the World is already unique as home to the highest concentration of resources for the design, development and manufacturing of musculoskeletal products in the world—but local leaders say the region’s approach to innovation is also one-of-a-kind. Orthopedic leaders in northeast Indiana created the business accelerator AcceLINX just one year ago; the organization says its already robust list of 54 clients and innovators is evidence of its powerful and unique position to drive musculoskeletal entrepreneurism.

The Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership says Warsaw/Kosciusko County is five times more innovative than the rest of the state based on patent ratings, but orthopedic leaders realized a need to support, accelerate and channel that spirit of discovery.

“Innovation continues to be the lifeblood of the orthopedic industry,” says Sheryl Conley, AcceLINX

board member and general management. “And we saw a great opportunity to better support it by having a business accelerator that could work with startups—everything from inventors to early-stage companies—to really leverage all the resources in this region and enhance their chance of business success. [AcceLINX] also has connectivity to resources around the world to help.”

AcceLINX says it has worked with eight businesses, including three in Indiana, four out of state and one international company.

“With the out-of-state or international companies, the goal is to get them to use resources here in Indiana, because we have a richer set of resources connected to [the orthopedic] business, whether that’s contract manufacturing, prototype development for regulatory consulting,” says Brad Bishop, executive director of OrthoWorx, the state’s orthopedic initiative. “In addition to the AcceLINX consulting team, we have this incredible array of companies and people who can do the things these startups need done.”

AcceLINX believes its executive team—each member with more than 25 years of experience in his or her area of expertise—is one of its most powerful resources.

“The team has decades of experience and global connections in the orthopedic, medical device and musculoskeletal sectors,” says Bishop. “There really isn’t a single entity like that other than AcceLINX.”

AcceLINX was founded with $3.3 million in funding, led by the Indiana Economic Development Corporation. The accelerator focuses on a fee-for-service model, with only a handful of equity agreements.

“Our vision for 10 years from now is to have measurable portfolio companies that we’ve worked with, and we’d be able to see a certain number of companies that brought some of their physical operations to Indiana,” says Conley. “Ten years from now, our objective would be for AcceLINX to be able to sustain itself and not be based on an economic development model, and that we will have seen some of our portfolio companies actually acquired, even by some of the companies in Indiana, and that our supply chain in Indiana is their primary supplier.”

Nestled within an industry cluster that generates a $5 billion economic impact annually in Indiana, AcceLINX says it will continue to build a nurturing environment for innovators—ensuring the region’s legacy as Orthopedic Capital of the World continues to flourish.

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Conley says AcceLINX is the only business accelerator of its kind.

Conley says AcceLINX has a desire for Indiana’s universities to focus more heavily on orthopedic innovations.