Need Startup Cash, Services? Enter YBI Contest

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Last autumn, when officials from the University Business Incubator Index made the trip from Stockholm to Youngstown – naming the Youngstown Business Incubator the No. 1 University Affiliated Incubator in the World – they left the YBI with a few suggestions.

Among them was creating initiatives to foster new ideas, and eventually transforming those ideas into portfolio companies.

The YBI is following through on that suggestion by launching its Amped $100,000 Startup Competition. The incubator is working with the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute – the full name of America Makes – to determine the contest winner.

The winning team will receive up to $100,000 from investors and up to $50,000 of in-kind support services from YBI. The team, which can have up to six members, must reside in or agree to relocate to northeastern Ohio.

Special consideration will be given proposals from startups that address problems in the “technology roadmap” put together by America Makes, which outlines opportunities and gaps in the 3-D printing market.

“It can be design software, IT support, advanced materials or something that can solve problems in the value chain,” says Rich Wetzel, additive manufacturing business coordinator for YBI. “We’re not limiting it to that sector, though.

“Applications that align with the Ohio Third Frontier Commission, items such as bioenterprise, IT software and advanced energy, will also be accepted.”

Applications will be accepted from July 1 to Aug. 14. A committee will choose up to seven teams to visit Youngstown Nov. 2 and pitch their proposals, marketing strategies and team members.

Where many startup contests offer a cash prize, Wetzel notes, the award for the Amped contest will be provided to the incubator “on the winning team(s) behalf for allowable costs after approval by YBI staff.”

Wetzel notes, “This isn’t just handing them a check for their project and giving them no obligation to pursue the business. We want real startups with a serious management team that wants to be here and join our network.”

Over the past few months, YBI representatives have traveled to trade shows, for both 3-D printing and business startups, to advertise the contest. Reception, Wetzel says, has been very good.

“Entrepreneurs are contacting us for more information, to find out if their idea is in line with what we’re looking for,” he says. “It’s been very reassuring so far.”

The competition will help boost the name recognition of the Youngstown Business Incubator and the city itself, Wetzel says. One comparable annual contest at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology gives out $100,000 to the winning team.

“It gets the city’s name out there and shows people that we can fund startups with high caliber investments,” Wetzel says.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.