Plug and Play promised regional connectivity when the international network of accelerators announced plans for a Topeka-based program, and it’s already paying off for one Kansas City-grown startup — before the Kansas accelerator even launches.
“Don’t ever turn down an opportunity to meet somebody or be introduced to somebody — because you never know where things are going to lead,” said Jeff Dunn, CEO of Redivus Health, revealing an unexpected connection to Katrin Bridges, senior vice president of innovation at The Greater Topeka Partnership.
A March conversation with Bridges connected Dunn to Plug and Play and last week landed him in the latest cohort for its 12-week Munich, Germany-based Startup Creasphere program in partnership with Roche Diagnostics.
“They were looking for a solution to support sepsis and there wasn’t a fit at the time,” he explained, noting the capabilities of Redivus Health’s technology — which aims to serve as a GPS for healthcare providers, providing them with interactive guidance in times of critical decision making.
“This collaboration could lead to multiple collaborative opportunities with our software and their company,” Dunn said.
Click here to learn more about Redivus Health.
News of the startup’s participation in a Plug and Play program came the day after Bridges and a selection committee virtually hosted 10 startups, each vying for a spot in the first cohort of Topeka’s Plug and Play Animal Health and Agtech accelerator.
“It’s going to take a couple of days to make that selection, but the cohort is going to pick up very shortly after,” Bridges told Startland News, noting a newly-promised climate of innovation in Topeka is rapidly taking hold — with the selection of developers for its innovation campus expected by the end of December, as a viability study draws to a close.
“It feels absolutely awesome. Brings a little tear to my eye,” she joked, referencing the work it’s taken to bring Topeka into regional conversations on innovation and to establish the city as a hub for entrepreneurship.
“[Through work with Plug and Play] we became part of the global community of innovators pretty much overnight. It was two years in the making,” Bridges continued. “By rolling out this program, we are now one of those communities on this planet that takes innovation seriously.”
Work to establish Topeka as an innovation presence hasn’t gone unnoticed by corporate partners, with Evergy signing on as the third and final founding partner for the Plug and Play program, Bridges added.
The energy giant joins Cargill and Hill’s Pet Nutrition in supporting the program.
“Those founding partners have a big influence and a big say in which startups get selected and those criteria are mainly based around strategic priorities for those partners,” she explained.
“The idea is to create pilot projects with them and really create those partnerships that allow those startup companies to flourish and for the corporate partners to get access to good deal flow, good external innovation, and innovative products and services that would take potentially much longer to develop internally.”
As Topeka’s innovation rapidly comes online, Dunn’s accidental exposure to its resources sends a positive message of what’s to come, he said.
“I talked to a [Kansas City-based] founder last week about whether he should have a conversation with Plug and Play and one of their partners and I very transparently told him there’s a lot of conversations you have that lead to dead ends — I would say this Plug and Play opportunity is one to plant some seeds and watch them grow,” Dunn recalled.
“I would say don’t ever turn down that conversation — especially if you’re introduced to these folks,” he added. “I’m a testament to something that can happen through those multiple conversations.”