The Kosciusko Economic Development Corp. is launching a program designed to grow the number of medical technology startups in the area. The organization says the Medical Technology Accelerator Studio aims to complement and advance the existing product development and manufacturing capabilities in Warsaw, which is billed as the Orthopedic Capital of the World.
“This accelerator studio is part of our effort to build on that legacy and make sure we are encouraging [and] cultivating a pipeline of new startup activity, in this case, specifically, around medtech opportunities to support our orthopedic sector,” said KEDCO Chief Executive Officer Alan Tio.
In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Tio said they are looking for ideas from existing companies in Warsaw.
“What are the needs that they see around medtech opportunities?” said Tio. “[It could be] things like virtual reality, data analytics, wearables, anything that is medical technology-focused that complements the implants, the instruments, all of the important, life-saving innovations that are happening here already.”
The accelerator is the result of a partnership between KEDCO and Indianapolis-based venture studio NEXT Studios. It is being funded by the Don Wood Foundation in Fort Wayne and Kosciusko County.
“More than 80% of all new jobs originate from companies under five years old,” John McDonald, managing entrepreneur with NEXT Studios, said in written remarks. “Building a supportive ecosystem to facilitate entrepreneurship is key to long-term sustainability. And KEDCO is leveraging its resources to engage its community and its workforce to build amazing things to come.”
Tio says the participating entrepreneurs will be able to work with KEDCO, NEXT Studios and companies in the area to first determine what sorts of challenges need to be solved and then identifying solutions and building companies around them.
“We want our community to be known for how it supports entrepreneurs,” said Tio. “We already have a strong foundation, with thriving businesses both large and small, and by establishing this pathway for innovation in our own backyard to support Kosciusko County and area businesses, we’re planting seeds to benefit our area for decades to come.”
KEDCO plans to begin a callout for interested entrepreneurs in mid-to-late July with an initial information session scheduled for July 21st in Warsaw.
NEXT Studios will then host a series of workshops for the first cohort over the next 3-4 months, including an event to generate new ideas and an accelerator for founders to pressure-test their ideas.
“We’re going to learn from that experience, ideally see those companies’ ventures launch here, and then repeat the process, find more opportunities to build around, more problems to solve, and more innovations to cultivate here in the Warsaw area.”
Tio says the long-term goal of the accelerator studio is to create a pipeline of startup companies in the medtech space, leading into the establishment of an innovation center in the area.
“There is a commitment with the city of Warsaw, the IEDC, and the certified tech park here to establish an innovation center,” he said. “So, we’re building that pipeline of companies and understanding what capabilities we’ll need to have in an innovation center. And of course, along the way, we’re looking for how we can build our innovation community, building our community of entrepreneurs, building the access to dollars of capital that companies need to grow here…and really creating a virtuous cycle for us.”