Startland News’ Startup Road Trip series explores innovative and uncommon ideas finding success in rural America and Midwestern startup hubs outside the Kansas City metro. This series is possible thanks to the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, which leads a collaborative, nationwide effort to identify and remove large and small barriers to new business creation.
TOPEKA — A first-of-its-kind Plug and Play innovation summit Tuesday in Topeka is expected to unite the region’s animal health corridor.
“The first time we came out to Topeka and saw the landscape and the ecosystem of the corporations, the excitement and really the challenges at hand, we thought to ourselves, ‘We need to be here,’” said Stephen Fay, Plug and Play’s director of corporate partnerships.
The summit will see a variety of guests and sponsors — including Kansas City-based Fulcrum Global Capital and Evergy Ventures — come together at Security Benefit in Kansas’ capital city for a day of panels, sessions, and celebration of a Plug and Play presence in Topeka.
“With our wide grasp of technologies and solutions across different industries — including at the intersections of (agricultural technology) and animal health and biosciences — we’re very excited to explore and foster that ecosystem here in Topeka,” Fay said.
Click here to read more about Plug and Play’s plans for Topeka’s emerging entrepreneurial ecosystem.
First announced in mid-2019, Plug and Play continues to work with leaders across the two-state Kansas City region to identify key industry challenges in animal health and agtech.
Once the accelerator has a firm understanding of such challenges, Plug and Play is expected to recruit six to 10 startups for participation in the city’s first, hotly-anticipated accelerator — expected to launch this summer, the company said.
“We are proud that Topeka has been selected as one of Plug and Play’s key locations outside Silicon Valley and New York,” said Katrin Bridges, Greater Topeka Partnership’s senior vice president of innovation. “This partnership will play a key role in making our region a globally recognized hub of animal health and ag tech innovation, collaboration and entrepreneurship.”
Scheduled guests include:
- Saeed Amidi, founder and CEO, Plug and Play;
- Stephen Fay – director of corporate partnerships, Plug and Play;
- Hutch Moragne, director, product and strategy, Plug and Play;
- Matt Pivarnik, president and CEO, Greater Topeka Partnership;
- Katrin Bridges, senior vice president of innovation, Greater Topeka Partnership;
- Michelle De La Isla, Topeka mayor;
- David Toland, Kansas secretary of commerce
Panel: Animal Health Corridor
- Kim Young, president KC Animal Health Corridor;
- Jesper Nordengaard, CEO, Hill’s Pet Nutrition;
- Lee Borck, chairman, Innovative Livestock Services;
- Dr. Dan Richardson, Corporate Hills and Academic;
- Dr. Tom Overbay, partner, Expedite Animal Health.
Panel: Venture Capital
- Duane Cantrell, managing partner and CEO, Fulcrum Global Capital;
- Brock Smith, managing director, Evergy Ventures;
- Michelle Shi, venture associate, food, Plug and Play.
Panel: Startup Pilot Best Practices
- John Keddy, CTO and CISO, Security Benefit in conversation with Hutch Moragne Corporate Partnerships Manager, Insurtech, Plug and Play.
This story is possible thanks to support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, nonpartisan foundation that works together with communities in education and entrepreneurship to create uncommon solutions and empower people to shape their futures and be successful.