owns a company that helps early-stage entrepreneurs to gain access to capital, expertise and high-level contacts, so it's no surprise that in 2006, his expertise was essential to creating LaunchTown
, an annual "best idea" competition in Northeast Ohio.
Barratt was inspired by the efforts of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation
as well as a business professor at John Carroll University who wanted to create something for his students, The first year involved students from John Carroll and then grew to include universities and colleges across Northeast Ohio.
Barratt says that the mission of LaunchTown is to give back to young people by “creating opportunities for students with great ideas to launch their businesses here and not take their talent and creativity to another part of the country after graduation.” The event is supported by the Burton D. Morgan Foundation
Through Barratt’s contacts, he’s been able to gain the support of the North Coast Angel Fund, Akron’s ARCHAngel Network, JumpStart and other organizations.
has recognized winners from 2010 (LifeServe Innovations) and 2009 (CitizenGroove) by naming them among the top 25 young companies created by individuals who are under 25 years of age. LaunchTown winners have also beaten teams from Harvard and Yale in national competitions.
Each year since 2007, finalists have brought their best ideas in science, engineering and the biomedical fields to compete for a $10,000 first prize and additional advisory services that are valued at $20,000.
This year’s winner, announced at an event in mid April, is University of Akron’s “Telkesis,”
a four-student team who created a unique spinal implant that insures greater safety, flexibility and efficiency for patients who need spinal stabilization.
Source: Tom Barratt
Writer: Lee Chilcote