Daryl V. Rowland

CLEVELAND: This fall, the Cleveland-area business accelerator LaunchHouse will provide $20,000 to 10 tech startups.

The money is available through a $200,000 grant from Ohio’s Third Frontier program.

Applications are being accepted through July 12.

In its first two cycles, LaunchHouse targeted information technology companies exclusively. This year, playing on the historical strengths of Northeast Ohio, the program has broadened to include startups within the hardware, software, robotics and consumer products industries with a tech focus.

“Cleveland offers accelerator companies a wealth of resources that reside at the convergence of technology and manufacturing,” said Todd Goldstein, CEO and managing partner at LaunchHouse.

This year’s 16-week LaunchHouse Accelerator (LHX) program is the first hardware accelerator in the state to focus on early stage hardware startups and technologies that support user interface, Goldstein said.

The intensive program, which provides funding, guidance and resources to startups that focus on hardware/robotics and user interface technologies, is now in its third year of helping to accelerate startups as their products progress from ideas through to prototypes.

As part of the program, organizations such as Cleveland State University’s Monte Ahuja College of Business, JumpStart Inc., NASA John H. Glenn Research Center and NorTech will serve as mentors and advisors for the LHX companies.

LaunchHouse, housed in a former car dealership in Shaker Heights, has a proven track record of launching successful startups. Since 2008,it has invested in 51 companies, which have raised more than $15.5 million in follow-on funding and created more than 70 jobs in Northeast Ohio.

The top 30 startups applying for the funding will be invited to participate in a “2 DAY Discovery,” which Goldstein describes as a process that LaunchHouse and program mentors will use to further vet companies.

Last year more than 125 startups from around the world applied to the program.

Following the 2 DAY Discovery, 10 startups will be selected to participate in a 16-week accelerator program that will begin Sept. 29.

LaunchHouse workshops in customer development, design for manufacturing, business modeling and human-centered design aim to provide startups with an increased ability to achieve market validation within 90 days.

At the culmination of the LHX program, companies will deliver their first public pitches and demo to investors, potential clients, other entrepreneurs and the general public at Demo Day.

More than 300 people attended last year’s Demo Day, which was presented in conjunction with the first Cleveland Entrepreneurship Week.

Interested startups can apply for consideration at https://www.f6s.com/launchhouseaccelerator20141.

Daryl Rowland can be reached at darylvrowland@gmail.com.