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TOPEKA — A soon-to-launch accelerator hoping to become a regional hub for animal health and agtech has found its inaugural leader.
Lindsay Lebahn, a familiar face among the Kansas state capital’s young professional scene, will serve as program manager for Topeka’s hotly anticipated Plug and Play Animal Health and AgTech Accelerator, GO Topeka and the Greater Topeka Partnership announced Monday.
“I’m thrilled to help launch Plug and Play in Topeka and be a part of an organization that is at the forefront of innovation,” Lebahn said in a release. “It’s an exciting opportunity for us as a community to really advance and shape the animal health and ag tech startups reaching for growth in Kansas.”
Lebahn is the program’s first on-the-ground hire. She previously served as executive director of Forge Young Talent — the Greater Topeka Partnership’s workforce development and retention initiative.
“When Lindsay was previously working for us at the partnership, we were lucky enough to have her be a part of the team that went out to pitch Topeka to Plug and Play,” said Matt Pivarnik, CEO of the Greater Topeka Partnership, describing the process that saw civic leaders luring the global accelerator to the Plains.
“I firmly believe that her involvement was a contributor to our success in obtaining this new startup accelerator program.”
First announced in fall 2019, Plug and Play’s commitment to Topeka is expected to draw significant traction to the city’s startup and entrepreneurial community building efforts. The Sunnyvale, California-based Plug and Play is billed as the world largest early stage investor, accelerator and corporate innovation platform.
Click here to read about how Plug and Play already boosted one Kansas City startup.
“This is the beginning of significant local economic impact made by the Plug and Play program,” said Molly Howey, president of GO Topeka.
“It’s wonderful to see the new employment opportunities being created because of Plug and Play — not just the jobs created through future startups participating in the accelerator, but jobs that the program itself creates.”
Additional hires are expected to follow Lebahn’s as the accelerator prepares for launch, the organization said.
Startups vying for a spot in the program’s first cohort made pitches to a panel of judges in October. Final selections have not yet been announced.
The program is backed by founding partners at Cargill, Evergy, and Hill’s Pet Nutrition.
Click here to read more about Topeka’s growing innovation climate.
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.