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New Third Frontier-OSU partnership to give young entrepreneurs a head start

A pilot program launched by the Ohio Third Frontier and the Fisher College of Business at Ohio State University represents a new way to help young technology entrepreneurs get their feet on the ground in Ohio.

Modeled after nationally renowned accelerators like Y Combinator and TechStars, Ohio's New Entrepreneur Fund (ONE Fund) will award $20,000 each to 10 entrepreneurial teams as part of the pilot's first round. The funds will support business and living expenses during an 11-week period in which participants receive guidance from mentors, industry experts, seasoned entrepreneurs and investors.

Teams will compete for selection to the program, which begins June 13 and ends Sept. 1. During that time, participants will prepare concepts and business models, which they will ultimately present to investors. ONE Fund participants must reside in Ohio for the duration of the program and any resulting company must be formed in Ohio.

"We're industry agnostic," says Ben Lagemann, risk capital program manager for the Ohio Department of Development. "Information technology is likely to have a strong presence, but this is not specific to any industry or technology base. Really, we're focusing on entrepreneurship, which is a transferrable skill set between technologies, between industries."

The pilot will be coordinated through Fisher's new 10x technology accelerator, an arm of the college's Center for Entrepreneurship. Lagemann says OSU was chosen as a partner because of its proximity to government offices in Columbus, the capabilities of the Center for Entrepreneurship and the expertise of center director Michael Camp.

"Dr. Camp was able to provide a turnkey solution for us in a very, very short period of time. No one else had those resources, capabilities or stature in the state," Lagemann says.

Camp describes the partnership as "a rare connect between a state funding the teams and the university training the teams." He says the ONE Fund pilot represents the kickoff of the 10x accelerator.

Norman Chagnon, executive director of the Third Frontier Commission, says $425,000 has been made available for startup costs and two pilot rounds representing up to 20 teams. Meanwhile, Columbus venture capital firm NCT Ventures has guaranteed that one team graduating from the first round will receive $200,000 in follow-on funding.

Applications for the first round are due April 24. Those interested can apply here.

Sources: Ben Lagemann, ODOD; Norman Chagnon, Third Frontier Commission; Michael Camp, OSU
Writer: Gene Monteith
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