The next big thing in innovation is coming to Topeka. Plug and Play, a globally recognized venture capital fund and corporate innovation platform, has picked Topeka as a location for their next accelerator program. As Plug and Play’s next startup accelerator city, Topeka will host upwards of 20 startup companies per year as each one goes through the 3-month startup accelerator program.
“Topeka’s partnership with Plug and Play is the first step in realizing our vision of making Topeka a hub of innovation for the entire region.” Katrin Bridges, SVP of Innovation, Greater Topeka Partnership, says. “In 2018 alone Plug and Play accelerated 1,107 startups worldwide. Plug and Play will leverage their global innovation platform to attract animal health/ag tech startups to Topeka which will have a tremendous economic impact on Shawnee County and the entire region.”
Topeka’s location in the Animal Health Corridor was a major contributing factor to the innovation platform’s decision. “We are excited about adding a new program to our growing ecosystem. Topeka is uniquely positioned to take advantage of the agricultural assets in the region which provide fertile ground to spark innovation both through accelerating startups and creating partnerships with corporate players. We feel that there is great momentum building for this initiative and look forward to bringing our experience and global network to the table,” says Saeed Amidi, CEO of Plug and Play.
“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.”
As this year’s winner of the Small Business Innovation Award, Joe Pennington, president of Stevenson Company, said, “It’s exciting to see Topeka’s commitment to innovation in the industry. I am looking forward to seeing if Plug and Play brings in a new recipient of the Innovation Award next year.”
Based out of Silicon Valley in Sunnyvale, Calif., Plug and Play has only three other locations in the United States outside of its headquarters: New York City, Cleveland and Northwest Arkansas. “This is an extremely unique opportunity,” John Keddy, CTO of Security Benefit and member of the GTP’s Innovation Advisory Board, says. “This is the fourth time in the U.S. that Plug and Play will set up shop outside of Silicon Valley. This will put Topeka on the map in terms of innovation.”
The Greater Topeka Partnership is optimistic that this program will afford them the chance to draw more startups to the community. “In bringing startups to Topeka, as a means to help them succeed, we will also work to attract and retain them to the area, growing the Topeka startup community in the process.” Bridges says.
In June 2019, the Greater Topeka Partnership hosted Plug and Play representatives in Topeka for several days. They met with several community leaders, GTP staff, entrepreneurs and potential corporate partners in the region to discuss the opportunity of building an animal health/ag tech program in Topeka.
Planning for the accelerator program is underway. “The Topeka community needs to continue to show our support of this initiative. To date, the community support and enthusiasm has been impressive, so it’s just a matter of us sustaining it.” Keddy says. This program will not only help Topeka’s economic growth, it will also attract and retain more talented individuals.