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Plug & Play Animal Health/Ag Tech Accelerator To Launch in Topeka

by Danni Hammontree | Oct 24, 2019

In August 2019, Topeka, Kan., was selected by Plug and Play Tech Center, a globally recognized venture capital fund and corporate innovation platform, to be a startup accelerator location focused on animal health and ag tech. The accelerator program is scheduled to start in early 2020. But what sparked their decision? Katrin Bridges, the Greater Topeka Partnership’s SVP of Innovation, asserts it was the region’s first-rate expertise and global players in animal health and ag tech within the Animal Health Corridor.

Based out of Silicon Valley in Sunnyvale, Calif., Plug and Play has only few other locations in the United States outside of its headquarters: New York City, Cleveland and Northwest Arkansas. In 2018 alone, Plug and Play accelerated 1,107 startups worldwide.

“Plug and Play has locations across 15 countries and will leverage its global network to attract animal health/ag tech startups to the region which will result in tremendous economic impact.” says Bridges.

“Advancing innovation is a strategic priority for the KC Animal Health Corridor,” says Kimberly Young, president of the KC Animal Health Corridor. “The addition of Plug and Play to our 22-county, bi-state region further enhances the established and growing ecosystem that attracts and supports emerging and established companies alike.”

Plug and Play’s expertise in building a sustainable accelerator program embedded in the region’s ecosystem of universities, industry players, economic development and government agencies combined with its expertise in 16 industry verticals including energy, sustainability, new materials & packaging, food, supply chain and logistics, internet of things, and now animal health/ag tech also allows the platform to infuse innovation in corporate partners that often have the ability to scale new products and services much faster than startups.

According to Bridges, through this partnership “we create a win-win-win scenario. We create wins for startup companies, for corporate partners, and for the region by creating economic opportunity. Plug and Play will integrate nicely with our ecosystem that has developed over many years along the corridor and we are proud that Topeka will become a new anchor within that ecosystem.”

Indeed, all major players will benefit from Plug and Play’s ability to provide a program that helps startup companies thrive. The program anticipates two 3-month cohorts a year with eight to 12 startups each. There is a 70 percent average success rate for those companies that go through a Plug and Play accelerator program measured in follow-on capital raised, a fact that makes the Greater Topeka Partnership optimistic that the program will allow them to draw successful startups to the region.

“We are excited to establish this new program in the heart of the Animal Health Corridor where we can take advantage of the high concentration of expertise, research, talent and innovators in the animal health/ag tech space,” Stephen Fay, Director of Corporate Partnerships at Plug and Play agrees. “This region can move the needle when it comes to innovation solving global challenges in food waste, food safety, supply chain optimization and many more.”

“It will be up to us to not only provide a welcoming and success-oriented business environment, but also to embed founders, their employees and families in our communities and make intentional introductions to industry experts and partners in the region to convince them to develop a footprint in the animal health corridor,” Bridges says.

To learn more about how to get involved with the program as a corporate partner, mentor or startup, please contact Katrin Bridges at Katrin.Bridges@TopekaPartnership.com or Stephen Fay at stephen@pnptc.com.

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