With the arrival of 2014, it’s time to close the book on the year that was 2013. To say it was a very busy 12 months in Northeast Ohio is a vast understatement: From companies making national waves and the emergence of cool new technologies to landmark investments and new entrepreneurial resources, there was plenty of notable forward momentum in the region. Here are 10 big 2013 trends, milestones and achievements.
1. New entrepreneurial resources emerged. New outlets for entrepreneurs to network and/or get assistance are a positive sign of a flourishing ecosystem. 2013 saw the emergence of myriad local resources—including the accelerator FlashStarts, tech entrepreneur networking events SunDown RunDown and TechPint, and women-focused mentoring group Burning River Coffee Community. The national organization Venture For America—which pairs promising college students with startups—also introduced its first Cleveland class, while Startup Weekend returned for another year.
2. Companies attracted some big investments. Leading the way was TOA Technologies—a developer of mobile workforce management software solutions that received a $66 million capital infusion from the Silicon Valley-headquartered Technology Crossover Ventures—and medical device company ViewRay, which received a $30 million investment. Another medical device company, CardioInsight, developers of non-invasive cardiac mapping technology in the form of an electrode-filled vest, raised $15 million from a strategic partner as part of a long-term financial deal that allows the Cleveland company to continue product development and clinical trials.
3. Innovation found new homes. Downtown Cleveland’s long-awaited convention center, the Global Center for Health Innovation, opened by hosting the Cleveland Clinic’s 2013 Medical Innovation Summit. Plus, a trio of cleantech companies—water-cleaning company ABSMaterials, catalytic-solution developer Catacel Corporation and surface engineering upstart MesoCoat—opened new facilities to better serve their customers and ramp up product development and production.
4. Growing companies won national recognition. Innovation received quite a share of the national spotlight this year. Map app Plotter was a SXSW Accelerator Interactive grand prize winner in the Social Technologies category. E-learning software company AMVONET received the 2013 North America Frost & Sullivan Award for New Product Innovation, while BOLD Guidance, which streamlines the college application process, took first place in mobile apps at the national tech conference FOCUS100 Symposium. And MAR Systems was named 1 of 10 Energy & Clean Technology Venture award winners.
5. There were big partnerships with international implications. GE Marine signed Echogen Power Systems exclusively to provide heat-to-power systems for use on marine vessels. AnalizaDx and Global Health Management Informatics teamed up to bring the former’s advanced, low-cost cancer diagnostics to Africa to enable early and effective treatment. And OnShift—whose software helps places such as nursing homes effectively schedule employees and balance shifts—formed a strategic partnership with MDI Achieve.
6. Healthcare innovation continued to thrive. The Midwest has long been a hub for healthcare— and home to companies such as Juventas Therapeutics, which started enrolling patients in a Phase I/II clinical trial, and CoverMyMeds, the prior-authorization software company which joined the SaaS capital portfolio and placed in the Top 100 of the Inc. 5000. Investment stats are also backing up this assertion: The 2013 mid-year BioEnterprise Midwest Healthcare Venture Investment Report found that 117 companies received $351 million, with Ohio—and specifically, cities such as Cleveland and Cincinnati—leading the way. In addition, BioMotiv—an organization formed to accelerate pharmaceutical commercialization—spun out its first two companies and attracted $25 million in capital.
7. Companies continued to exit. Cloud computing firm Paragrid was acquired by another company in its industry, Evolve IP. In addition, a Canadian investor bought a controlling interest in the Beachwood-based pet insurance company, Embrace Pet Insurance.
8. There was plenty of regulatory approval. A number of local medical companies received regulatory approval either in the U.S. or overseas for their technology, product or device. This list includes Neuros Medical, Zuga Medical, SPR Therapeutics and Synapse Biomedical. Another company, Freedom Meditech, announced the U.S. commercial launch of its ClearPath DS-120™ device.
9. Northeast Ohio innovators were lauded with national media kudos. Northeast Ohio’s entrepreneurial scene received recognition in places such as Slate and The Atlantic, while its companies have appeared in Good Housekeeping and on The Today Show (Wireless Environment and its LED-friendly lights), snagged a deal on ABC’s Shark Tank (Al “Bubba” Baker and his de-boned ribs) and appeared on NPR (Cleveland Whiskey), FastCompany (Sprav) and Crowdfund Insider (Crowdentials). Multiple startups made the Inc. 500/5000 list, and Darkside Scientific—which has developed electroluminescent paint coating that glows—was featured in a video that’s part of Progressive’s new national campaign.
10. The region’s economic development efforts earned international awards. The International Economic Development Council (IEDC) awarded two Silver Excellence in Economic Development Awards to the JumpStart Entrepreneurial Network, a collaborative effort that efficiently leverages support resources for the benefit of Greater Cleveland entrepreneurs. Projects in nearby cities Akron, Kent and Cleveland, as well as other Northeast Ohio locales, also received recognition.