Matt Sapara, Vice President, Government Relations, Mercy Health - Toledo discusses Mercy Health's participation with NextTech.


TOLEDO, OH – NextTech, a collaborative organization comprised of Mercy Health, ProMedica, The University of Toledo and Bowling Green State University, was awarded a $8.7 million grant as the Entrepreneurial Service Provider (ESP) for Northwest Ohio by the Ohio Third Frontier Board. The grant includes the calendar years 2017 – 2018.

The ESP program available through Ohio Third Frontier offers a network of entrepreneurial services and capital to help accelerate the growth of early stage Ohio technology companies. Ohio Third Frontier is part of Ohio Development Agencies. The Northwest Ohio ESP will serve an 18-county region.

Having an ESP is essential to the northwest Ohio economy, and is significant for the Ohio economy overall. With this in mind, the leadership and boards of Mercy Health, ProMedica, UT and BGSU committed to working together as the region’s ESP.

“As anchor institutions in our communities, we are wholly committed to investing in, growing, generating jobs, creating investment capital and strengthening our region and Ohio by fostering inclusive technology entrepreneurship,” said Randy Oostra, ProMedica’s president and CEO. ProMedica is the lead applicant for the ESP.

High tech companies in northwest Ohio have lagged significantly in capital raised and jobs created over the last several years. NextTech will be focused on helping enhance connections to assets in the region as well as access to capital and talent in an inclusive environment including women, minority and rural populations. One key initial area of focus for NextTech is to help ensure resources are focused on high potential companies that have critical business needs not currently being sufficiently addressed.

Each of the participating organizations brings an area of expertise to the ESP, and will have active roles in the delivery of technology commercialization services.

In addition to its new Collab-Lab, BGSU will engage with a wider, broader and deeper range of potential entrepreneurs.

“This is an outstanding collaboration for northwest Ohio that will help to build a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem in the region,” said BGSU President Mary Ellen Mazey. “We look forward to leveraging our strengths in education, arts and sciences, digital arts, computer science and data sciences to launch new businesses.”

UT will continue to help researchers launch start-up companies by providing space to work and access to potential investors, as well as connecting them with business advice and patent protection.

“UT is proud to work together through this community partnership to build technology entrepreneurship in the region,” UT President Sharon L. Gaber said. “As a research institution, the University is fostering and developing new ideas every day to make life better. From new medical devices and therapeutic medicines to advanced manufacturing innovations and software breakthroughs, our faculty and students are coming up with creative ways to solve problems, and we look forward to inspiring more commercial success stories through UT LaunchPad Incubation and our Technology Transfer office.”

Mercy Health will have broad responsibilities including helping manage the assessment of a portfolio of innovations and to help identify opportunities with commercial potential.

“As innovators in healthcare across northwest Ohio for 162 years, Mercy Health’s desire is to not only focus from a healthcare end in creating new technologies and opportunities but also ensure the community as a whole benefits through job creation and positioning northwest Ohio for growth moving forward,” said Imran Andrabi, M.D., president and CEO, Mercy Health. “Mercy Health is proud to collaborate with these organization through the ESP program and work together for the benefit of all who live and work here.”

ProMedica will continue to support biomedical innovators and entrepreneurs from across the region, and will work to ensure that there will be greater visibility for commercialization activities as well as the breadth of opportunities.

As the ESP for the region, NextTech will be prepared to provide services including institutional technology commercialization, venture development services and enterprise development services, as well as cross-cutting activities like branding and marketing support. Offering these services will help develop a diverse pool of entrepreneurial talent, attract venture capital firms and other investors, and help support and enable company operations.

“The vision for NextTech is to create an ecosystem which consistently generates high-tech, high-wage jobs and opportunity in northwest Ohio,” said John Pigott, M.D., FACS, ProMedica Chief Innovation Officer/Strategic Business Development, and lead for developing the RFP response to the Ohio Third Frontier. “The mission is to drive a technology-based start-up environment through a broad and inclusive entrepreneurial community in northwest Ohio by providing intensive business commercialization services to prepare companies for funding and sustainability. “

As part of the collaborative effort between the partnering organizations, a governance structure has been developed to ensure that conflicts of interests will be eliminated.

Key agencies in the region, including the Toledo-Lucas Country Port Authority, Regional Growth Partnership, Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Toledo Development Corporation (22nd Century Committee recently transition to DTDC), are supportive of NextTech and feel it is critical for northwest Ohio to have an ESP.

“This is a tremendous opportunity that we are very thankful to have,” said Oostra. “The ESP will help to continue to build on the revitalization and economic development momentum we have already established. Our four organizations have the experience, expertise and resources to be successful in this venture.”

ProMedica is a mission-based, not-for-profit healthcare organization serving northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan. The 12-hospital system has more than 15,000 employees, nearly 2,100 physicians and advanced practice providers with privileges, and more than 800 healthcare providers employed by ProMedica Physicians. Additionally it offers a health plan, Paramount, which serves 331,000 members including more than 230,000 members in the statewide Medicaid plan. Driven by its Mission to improve your health and well-being, ProMedica offers a full range of diagnostic, medical and surgical specialties in areas such as emergency medicine and trauma, behavioral health, heart and vascular, oncology, orthopaedics, neurology, and women’s and children’s services. The health system has been nationally recognized for its advocacy programs and efforts to raise awareness about hunger as a health issue. For more information about ProMedica, please visit

Mercy Health – Toledo
Mercy Health - Toledo is a member of Mercy Health, the largest health system in Ohio and the fourth largest employer in the state. Locally, Mercy Health is based in Toledo, Ohio and serves 20 counties in Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan. Mercy Health – Toledo provides comprehensive primary and critical care services to residents as well as a robust physician group, Mercy Health Physicians, Life Flight critical air transport services and Mercy College of Ohio.
Mercy Health - Toledo is proud to provide nearly $110 million in community benefit in 2016 which includes charity care and community health services. With approximately 8,800 employees; 300 employed physicians; and 2,200 medical staff members, Mercy Health has been part of the Northwest Ohio community it serves for more than 162 years. Please visit for additional information and connect with Mercy Health – Toledo on Facebook, Twitter @mercynwohio and Instagram.

The University of Toledo
The University of Toledo, established in 1872, is a diverse, student-centered public metropolitan research university. The University is home to more than 20,000 students across six Ohio campuses offering more than 150 doctoral, professional, graduate and undergraduate programs. UT is just one of 27 comprehensive public U.S. universities that offer programs in the professional fields of business, education, engineering, law, medicine, nursing and pharmacy. Nearly 350 student athletes comprise 15 Division 1 Rocket athletic teams. For more information, visit

Bowling Green State University
Located in northwest Ohio, Bowling Green State University offers experiences that enhance lives. Students are prepared for lifelong career growth, lives of engaged citizenship and leadership in a global society. The University has an enrollment of approximately 19,000 students on two campuses and approximately 800 full-time faculty. More than 200 undergraduate majors and programs are offered, along with master’s degree programs, specialist degree programs and doctoral programs.