Dayton’s Entrepreneurs Center did not win a hoped-for $12 million in Entrepreneurial Signature Program (ESP) funding from the Ohio Third Frontier Commission Thursday.
Scott Koorndyk, president of the Entrepreneurs Center — a home for technology-oriented start-up businesses — said the consensus among commissioners was to acknowledge the center’s work and “progress,” but they did not act on the center’s request for ESP funding.
The Third Frontier Commission took no action on the request after an independent evaluator did not recommend the funding.
Koorndyk said he was disappointed and added, “Frankly, this decision doesn’t change a thing for the community, and it doesn’t change a thing for the Entrepreneurs Center. We’ve existed without ESP money for 16 months … We’ve continued to see extraordinary growth in start-ups. The community has come together in impressive ways.”
The center had sought $12 million total, including $6 million in local cost sharing, with a hoped-for $6 million from Ohio, for 2017 to 2019.
Still, Koorndyk believes commissioners like what they see happening in Dayton, and he added:
“There is some discussion now about next steps for potential paths for funding in the community.”
A spokeswoman for the Ohio Development Services agency said all Third Frontier proposed projects of this type are required by both the General Assembly and the Ohio constitution to be evaluated by an independent evaluator.
She referred to the evaluator’s presentation, found on the Third Frontier Commission’s web site, which said in part that the Entrepreneurs Center’s proposal “lacks emphasis on resources and relationships to be able to support high-potential firms” and suffered a “notable lack of health-related stakeholders.”
In the summer of 2015, the state commission rejected the Dayton Development Coalition’s bid for $1.8 million in ESP funding for the tech start-up program.
ESP funding is meant to assist the commercialization of new technologies.
Koorndyk said the outcome Thursday is “frustrating,” but he vowed that the center’s work will continue. And he said Dayton’s “start-up culture” remains vibrant.
“This isn’t an indictment of the community,” he said. “This is just a process we need to go through.”
He added, “We’ve got an event tomorrow, 350 people coming into the community to look at and talk about and understand the energy in our space.”
Today, the Entrepreneurs Center will be among the local organizations participating in Dayton Catalyst, an event expected to draw entrepreneurs, investors and local leaders to learn about tech ventures in Dayton.
Local start-ups will have the opportunity to pitch ideas to a top venture capitalist from Silicon Valley — Simone Syed, a native of Dayton — at that event, from 9 to 11:30 a.m. at the Dayton Masonic Center Ohio Development Services Agency spokespeople Thursday.
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