AcceLINX works to bring orthopedic and related companies to Indiana, especially Kosciusko County.

During the County Commissioners meeting Tuesday, the commissioners heard an annual report of what the organization has been involved in, including helping a New Hampshire company relocate to the Warsaw area.

Brad Bishop, OrthoWorx executive director, said AcceLINX is primarily a medical device business accelerator that OrthoWorx founded in the aftermath of the Zimmer and Biomet merger.

“At that point, we came to the county, the city and state of Indiana and said there’s going to be a lot of excess tax revenue generated as a result of this transaction and we ask you to put some of that money back to work in creating the next Zimmer or Biomet kind of start-ups or help grow companies that can use the resources that already exist in Kosciusko County in terms of contract manufacturers and other service providers to the industry,” Bishop said.

The county and OrthoWorx signed a contract in May 2016 for $1 million over six years. The county has already made its 2020 payment and there are two years left on the contract.

AcceLINX Principal Consultant Dave Anderson ran through some of the highlights of AcceLINX’s progress report, which the county received after the close of the organization’s fiscal year in July.

Anderson said, “One of the ways in which we have economic impact is by encouraging companies that we engage with, through consulting arrangements, to relocate to the state. We definitely make sure they understand the level of talent that’s available here and it’s industry-specific talent, which is important to a lot of these start-ups. And, also, of course, the rest of the ecosystem, whether it’s suppliers or service providers that exist here that also cater to the industry.”

To that end, he said AcceLINX is finalizing arrangements with one of its clients to relocate its operations from New Hampshire to Warsaw. The business will be a resident in the AcceLINX offices in the City Hall building for the next four to six months and then will look for a larger space in Warsaw after that.

“They do have plans for growth, and those involve the hiring of 64 direct jobs over the next three years. And then with the work they’re providing to different suppliers in the area, they expect to have an additional impact of 30 to 35 jobs within those suppliers. So a net impact of 100 jobs over the next three years,” Anderson said.

The New Hampshire company recognizes the benefits of relocating here, he said, and they also looked at Tennessee and Texas as well. “So we should be proud of what we have available,” Anderson said.

He recognized the efforts and support provided by the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, City of Warsaw, Mayor’s Office and Kosciusko Economic Development Corporation.

“I think the companies that we bring into the area really appreciate the level of support and the availability of those people that can help them,” Anderson said.

A second company that AcceLINX has been working with for a couple of years now is based in Italy. “They’ve expressed an interest in setting up operations up here, in the U.S. and in our area, as well. It’s a little early. They’re just going through their FDA submissions, they don’t have a product yet. But we’re serving as their U.S. FDA agent, so that helps establish their presence here,” Anderson said.

AcceLINX is working with a third company out of Austin, Texas, and trying to encourage them to move to the Kosciusko County area. “But that will be contingent on a commitment of funds from ... Indiana investors, so stay tuned for that,” he said.

Commissioner Brad Jackson asked Anderson to explain the interaction between AcceLINX and KEDCO because “in a way you’re kind of doing the same thing, but I know you’re working together.”

Anderson said AcceLINX is not just promoting the area. “We’re engaging with start-ups from all over the country, all over Indiana and all over the world and we’re providing consulting advice to them. So, we’re helping them with technical affairs matters, whether it’s R&D, manufacturing, engineering type challenges; fundraising, commercial affairs, intellectual property, regulatory affairs, reimbursement affairs. We have that capability within our organization so we build a relationship by providing those services to them, and then they get to know us pretty well and we’re able to introduce them to different suppliers and service providers in the area, as well,” he said.

Anderson said that since the inception of AcceLINX in 2017, they’ve had discussions with 98 entities for the provision of consulting services, “which is a healthy increase over last year and we’re actively engaged or completed consulting assignments from all over the world.” Four are from Warsaw, one from Bloomington, one from Indianapolis, one from South Bend; five from out-of-state locations, including Ohio, Texas, Colorado, New York and Michigan; and two from outside of the U.S., Italy and Israel.

Apart from its consulting services, Anderson said AcceLINX is on the hunt for intellectual property, orthopedic concepts that would be appealing to AcceLINX and investors, “so that the idea would be we would build a business around that intellectual property. We would license it, we would acquire it, we would put a team together to run that business. Think of it as an AcceLINX in-house start-up if you will.”

He said they have yet to find a piece of intellectual property to build a company around, but the search continues.

Access to capital remains one of the biggest challenges to start-up companies today and the COVID-19 pandemic has not helped in any way, he said.

About nine months ago, AcceLINX thought one way it could help start-ups would be to have a “pitch” competition. The best pitch in the bunch would be awarded cash prizes, which would motivate them and investors to come to the county. An orthopedic industry forum also would run around that competition.

“All of this was going to occur here in Warsaw. We had planned for an inaugural event in September, this month, but unfortunately we’ve had to push that off due to the pandemic. Folks just aren’t willing to travel right now. But we’ll continue to take a wait-and-see approach,” he said, with hopes that a competition may happen in the spring. About 250 people from the industry would attend.

Finally, Anderson said, AcceLINX expanded its team of consultants to share with its clients. In the last 12 months, it brought on four new consultants: two technical affairs consultants, one regulatory affairs consultant and a capital sourcing and business financing consultant. Three consultants reside in Warsaw, and the fourth is from South Bend.