Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Spotlight: Akron, OH

Akron, OH

Akron is located in one of the best states for women entrepreneurs and calls itself the “City of Invention.”

Akron, OH, located just 30 miles south of Cleveland, is the state’s fifth-largest city. Founded in 1825, the city has a long history – one that includes the city earning a reputation as a business hub. That reputation has led to a pair of nicknames that illustrate the city’s entrepreneurial spirit: the “Rubber Capital of the World,” for its history of rubber and tire manufacturing, and the self-given “City of Invention.”

Akron appeared on WalletHub’s 2019 list of the best metropolitan areas for STEM professionals, taking 72nd place. The city was also on a ranking of the most innovative metropolitan areas in the US done by Verizon, in 43rd place. The entrepreneurial environment isn’t just limited to the city, however: Ohio as a whole appeared second on a Fit Small Business ranking of the best states for women entrepreneurs in 2019.

Based on these rankings, FundingSage has reviewed the resources that make up Akron’s entrepreneurial ecosystem:

Entrepreneurial Meetups:

The Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship Research at the Hudson Library hosts regular networking meetings and workshops to support area entrepreneurship.

Just down the road in Medina, the Medina County Entrepreneurs networking group is an opportunity for entrepreneurs to connect with one another.

Founded by and named after Norma Rist, RistList is a series of events and workshops to help develop and support women business owners and entrepreneurs.

In the neighboring city of Hudson, Tech Hub Hudson is a co-working space that hosts regular events and free co-working days to support the local entrepreneurial and tech scenes.


Regular Entrepreneurial Events:

The Greater Akron Chamber of Commerce hosts regular events related to the area business and entrepreneurship scene.

The Burton D. Morgan Foundation, located just down the road in Hudson, OH, hosts a number of events and workshops to support area entrepreneurship.

The Akron branch of the eWomen Network, a networking group for entrepreneurial women, hosts an annual conference in late July.


Startup Competitions:

In addition to a traditional pitch competition, the University of Akron hosts a competition for social entrepreneurship and non-profit companies.

Based in Northeast Ohio, LaunchTown runs a pair of competitions: a general competition and specific competition for food-based startups.

Every year the Startup Bus takes off from a number of cities around the country and take off towards New Orleans, with the passengers creating a business plan.

The university hosts an annual pitch competition open to all of the university’s students with a grand prize of $10,000.


Co-working Spaces:

Canal Place offers storage, office and industrial space as well as executive suites for rent, with amenities including an on-site fitness center.

OSC Tech Lab is a co-working space that offers a variety of membership plans and a number of amenities and services for its members.

Located just outside of Akron, Tech Hub Hudson is a co-working space intended for technology-based startups that provides a number of resources for its members.



This is a community workshop that provides tools and equipment to the public and hosts regular events and classes.

The Bounce Innovation Hub also offers a makerspace, co-working space, as well as incubation and acceleration services.

All students, faculty, and staff at the University of Akron have access to the school’s makerspace in the school’s Bierce Library.

The Akron-Summit County Public Library’s TechZone@Main is a resource for library members to use computers and some small-scale manufacturing equipment.



A program of The Well Akron, Akron Food Works is a food business incubator program that works to grow food-based startups and provides commercial kitchen space.

This organization works to develop and grow small businesses in Akron and the surrounding area.

Among the other resources offered by the Bounce Innovation Hub is an incubator, a collection of resources to support businesses grow past early-stage companies.



The Bounce Innovation Hub organizes a pair of accelerator programs, a product development accelerator, and a sales and marketing accelerator.



Kent State University organizes a number of resources for entrepreneurial-minded students, including a speaker series, scholarship opportunities and more.

Stark State College, located just down the road in North Canton, offers a pair of certificate programs and an associate’s degree in entrepreneurship.

Students interested in entrepreneurship at the University of Akron have a number of opportunities both inside and outside of the classroom organized by the university.


Angel Groups/VCs:

Based in Akron, Acquire Investments is a private investment company that works with small- to medium-sized businesses all around the Northeast Ohio area.

Canal Pointe Capital is a private investment firm located in Akron that invests in middle-market companies.

Located just down the road in Zoar, the Impact Angel Fund is a venture capital fund that invests in early-stage technology companies around the state.

The Northeast Ohio Student Venture Fund is an organization that helps support and fund student entrepreneurs.


Entrepreneurial Newsletter Coverage:

Though the Akron Beacon Journal doesn’t offer a newsletter specifically dealing with business or entrepreneurship, it does cover the region’s news.

The Greater Akron Chamber of Commerce sends a regular e-mail newsletter concerning news and events from the chamber and the local business scene.

Crain’s Cleveland Business, a website dedicated to covering Cleveland business news but also covers Akron and the surrounding area, offers email newsletters.

Are you familiar with entrepreneurial ecosystem infrastructure in Akron not included in the article above?  If so, let us know via a comment below, and we will add it to the article. 

Interested in Ecosystem Spotlights of other cities in the USA?

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Quinn Pilkey

Quinn is a journalism major at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He also serves as a freelance author for Hashtag Basketball where he writes about the NBA's Charlotte Hornets and at FundingSage where he researches and writes about entrepreneurial ecosystems.