The search for innovative startups focused on companies that already had sales and customers.
Karl Sanchack, CEO of the Erie Innovation District, said from the beginning that Erie would have to develop its own entrepreneurs.
That process could get a boost this week with the leaders or founders of 10 high-tech companies who will be participating in the Secure Erie Accelerator, a 10-week business boot camp of sorts that brings together the resources of the Singularity University, Mercyhurst University and the Erie Innovation District.
Sanchack, who said successful applicants came from eight states and Canada, said he did not choose the first 10 companies that applied.
The search for innovative startups — companies that already had sales and customers — was aggressive, he said. Sanchack reached out to a wide range of applicants, even posting the notice in a number of embassies.
Ultimately, he said, applications came in from 36 states.
He wasn’t surprised by the reaction from startups in the areas of data management, data analysis, data security and cybersecurity — programs that are being housed at the Erie Innovation District Headquarters at 717 State St.
The startups selected will receive mentoring and training that is tailored to the specific needs of each business.
But the Erie Innovation District, which will introduce the startups to Erie Mayor Joe Schember and Erie County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper at a gathering Tuesday evening, is investing in these companies with the hope of a payback.
They’re hoping some of those businesses will decide to make their homes in Erie.
“We made it clear we were looking for companies who wanted to put their roots down and that would be one of our weighted criteria,” Sanchack said.
Companies are being encouraged to incorporate in Pennsylvania and a number of participants have indicated excitement about being involved in Erie’s smart cities initiative.
There are no sure things in the world of business, but Sanchack said the companies chosen for the program are farther along than most.
“These aren’t notional companies,” he said. “In the world of startups, a lot of companies are a glimmer in the eye. These are companies with real sales.”
Sanchack said the group of entrepreneurs who will meet with local leaders later today represents only the first round.
More are expected to follow, hopefully creating a sort of snowball effect of security-focused entrepreneurs who want to call Erie home.
He’s hoping, ultimately, that one group will follow another.
“I am extremely confident that we are going to find a set of entrepreneurs that are going to stay in Erie,” he said. “I am really intent on swinging for the fences and bringing in capacity to the city that will have an effect over the long haul.”
Jim Martin can be reached at 870-1668 or by email. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ETNMartin.