Startups worldwide compete for spot in Topeka’s Plug and Play accelerator program

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) – Topeka’s new animal health accelerator program is aiming to bring innovative startups from around the world to Kansas.

Companies from Australia, Spain, the United Kingdom and several U.S. states are vying to be the first in the new Plug and Play Topeka campus. The business accelerator pairs Silicon Valley technology with Kansas’ research, development and startup entrepreneurs.

“This is a truly great day for Topeka and the Animal Health Corridor,” said Katrin Bridges, SVP of Innovation for Go Topeka. “We are now a part of a global network of innovators.”

The Animal Health Corridor stretches from Manhattan, KS to Columbia, MO. Plug and Play chose Topeka for its accelerator program because of its central location.

Bridges said, “This is a wonderful opportunity for startups to succeed, for corporate partners to be on the cutting edge of innovation and for our community to grow and to broaden our horizon and network.”

During Wednesday’s virtual launch, Plug and Play Topeka’s founding partners heard from ten startups on their innovative ideas to further the animal health and ag tech industry.

Only six of those companies will be selected to go through a three-month accelerator program aimed at helping their businesses get off the ground.

Partners from Evergy, Hill’s Pet Nutrition and Cargill said they are excited to hit the ground running.

“This is a great economic development opportunity for us and we certainly look forward to getting to know these great startup companies,” said Jeff Martin, Evergy’s VP of Customer and Community Operations.

Hill’s Pet Nutrition VP of Global Marketing and Innovation, David Scharf said, “This is a brand new space, there’s so much opportunity. Obviously Hill’s being a leader in companion animals and companion health we have great innovation, robust pipelines, but for this it allows us to kind of expand and work with this ecosystem and have new discoveries.”

“I really like the idea of connecting big and small which is what this is really about,” added Brad Wright, Cargill’s Innovation Portfolio Manager. “I think it brings the best of both worlds together and I’m really excited to see what we can create together, finding new partners and expanding our ecosystem.”

The Greater Topeka Partnership said it expects Plug and Play to announce its startup selection Friday.

Those companies will go through three months of virtual mentoring since the Topeka campus is still under development.

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