MAGNET’s MSPIRE 2020 Northeast Ohio’s premier pitch competition

MAGNET’s MSPIRE 2020 Northeast Ohio’s premier pitch competition

More than $50,000 in prizes available for Northeast Ohio-based physical product startups; includes assessments, subsidized engineering, and free consulting.


MAGNET: The Manufacturing Growth and Advocacy Network, announces the launch of the organization’s fifth annual MSPIRE pitch challenge, designed to help accelerate the growth of new physical product businesses. MAGNET has adapted Northeast Ohio’s only physical product-focused pitch competition to be online-only this year, making it even more accessible to entrepreneurs of all backgrounds. The online application period will take place from September 1st through September 30th, with finalists pitching to a panel of judges from various entrepreneurial and community partner organizations in late October. Awards will be announced shortly thereafter. The competition is open to entrepreneurs and  startups based in Northeast Ohio that make any physical product, from food to robots, clothing to sensors, and everything in between. Prizes include up to $30,000 in fully-subsidized engineering projects, $10,000 cash prize for a minority entrepreneur in the city of Cleveland funded by the regional Business Growth Collaborative, full access to MAGNET’s Iterator team for 3 months, and more. Every applicant will receive detailed feedback on their proposal and – wherever possible – connections to local organizations that can help develop the idea and further the company. Any applicant with challenges connecting to the Internet can state so in the application, and MAGNET will attempt to connect them with options to ensure they have full access to the competition.

Funded by the State of Ohio’s Entrepreneurial Service Program and the Ohio Manufacturing Extension Partnership, corporate sponsors like Bank of America, and philanthropic organizations like the Fund for Our Economic Future and the Cleveland Foundation, MAGNET has the engineering, product design, consulting, and other resources necessary to support these innovators in their journeys from ideas to growing businesses that create jobs, drive new investments in our region, and reinvigorate local communities.

“We are so excited to announce the MSPIRE pitching challenge for 2020, and to engage entrepreneurs who have tremendous potential to turn their ideas into thriving businesses,” says Brandon Cornuke, MAGNET’s vice president of startups. “Through the MAGNET Iterator, we are looking forward to working with every applicant to help these companies individually, while also promoting innovation and driving economic growth here in Northeast Ohio.”

“Entrepreneurship is the lifeblood of a thriving economy,” says Ethan Karp, president and CEO of MAGNET. “Great ideas and exciting new companies don’t stop in a pandemic, and neither will MAGNET’s support of our region’s dynamic, exciting group of rising entrepreneurs.”

In 2019, MSPIRE received 110 applications from across Northeast Ohio, including Lorain, Cleveland, Wooster, Columbus, Youngstown, Canton, and Akron. Fourteen finalists were selected to meet in person with an expert panel of judges that included entrepreneurs, financial advisors, engineers, marketing experts, and more. The six winners – TidyCup, NEOEx, NelDerm, Solar Screen, Enhancing Life Mobility, and Cleveland Brownie – each received prizes and resources tailored to the needs of their individual business, including grant funding, product development, digital marketing assistance, market research, and specialized consulting services.

According to Mark Haberbusch, CEO of NEOEx, “The relationship NEOEx Systems has with MAGNET is outstanding in both business planning and engineering. MAGNET personnel are very professional to work with and excellent at identifying the needs of the startup and quickly bringing resources in to help. The MAGNET MSPIRE program has directly impacted the growth of NEOEx Systems and we are very grateful for that. We look forward to continuing our strong relationship with MAGNET as we prepare to fly our liquid hydrogen energy systems.”

Who can apply?
The competition is open to any entrepreneur with an innovative physical product idea, product, or business operating in Northeast Ohio.

Where and when do I apply?– Full guidelines are posted on the website. The deadline is September 30, 2020, at 11:59pm.

What types of submissions are you looking for?
Any industry of manufactured good is welcome to apply. Past winners have included consumer products like dolls, games, and food; industrial products including recycling and advanced robotics; and everything in between.

If I have technology difficulties or other challenges, what should I do?
Call Alec Simon at MAGNET at 216.250.1912 and we will work with you to address any barriers to your application.