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Success Stories

Fellows Identify and Validate New Business Opportunities for NEO Companies

Success Stories

The EDGE Fellows Summer Program started in 2007, and there have been a number of successes in providing high quality research and connecting students with leaders across the region.  Each year about 40% of the projects come from repeat companies and nearly 50% of the projects result in new investment and/or new revenue for the Northeast Ohio economy within 2 – 3 years. Many of the new business ideas are unfolding and many are confidential in nature.  Below are a few tangible result.

About 70% of EDGE Fellows choose to work in Northeast Ohio following graduation.


  • Historically, EDGE Fellows rate their experience with the Program a 9.2 average (scale of 1 – 10).
  • What might participating companies tell another company about their EDGE Fellows experience?

    • “Effort, organization, and passion led to a successful, seamless internship with very useful output.”
    • “I was running two different research programs simultaneously, and the EDGE Fellows far outpaced the other organization I was working with.”
    • “I was impressed with the depth of their effort and the sophistication of the model they provided to us, particularly when we had provided them with a virtually unknown product for a market they knew nothing about.”
    • “EDGE and our team were all joys to work with; all very insightful, high energy and positive with sense of urgency in their approaches.” (Aexcel)
    • “I have done a few other undergraduate and business school projects with groups of students, but never have I had the dedication and devotion and final product that I received from the EDGE Fellows. They truly sunk their teeth into the project and had a genuine passion for finding solutions to our problem. They seemed to enjoy their work, enjoying their learning experience, and they never said no to a request or a direction change I made. They were professional and courteous, and I had no hesitation to have them say they were affiliated with our company. The setup of the program and the resources at the interns disposal, all served to make this a highly successful project.” (Innovative Medical Equipment)
    • “The business experience and deliverables were very rewarding and the payback substantial, especially for the time allotted. It’s refreshing to see things through a much younger and talented set of eyes. The students were serious about the program and their work. Relationships and future business opportunities may even be shared over time.  Great concept for resource collaboration and efforts to reside and prosper in NE Ohio.” (Cres Cor)
    • “This would have taken us 12 months to accomplish on our own, and I couldn’t say the deliverables would have been much better. (Cres Cor)
    • “It is very positive. The biggest opportunity for most companies is probably to identify and define an ideal project where someone can come in and have a positive experience and add value in a short time.” (Fortune 500 Company)
    • “If you have the opportunity to use EDGE interns for a summer program – grab it.” (Kichler)

Nearly 50% of ideas studied (’07–’17) are generating new investment or income within 2–3 years.

  • Malish (Mentor) – Fellows validated new market opportunities and actionable steps for a nearly 80-year-old growth-oriented brush manufacturing company that has been working in a highly mature industry.
  • PartsSource (Aurora) utilized EDGE Fellows to look at spend analysis and search conversion rates — both projects showing clear opportunities to increase sales and profits.
  • Aexcel Corporation hired EDGE Fellow (Chris Hren) to run its new bio-based coatings operation following the Fellows Program and progressed to new product sales within two years.
  • Medical Device Company (after receiving news about Third Frontier funding): “With this news, we incorporated the company, opened a bank account, created extra office space and (one of our directors) will be moving to Cleveland on Monday to get started full time on developing the SmartCool product. This funding, in addition to the $2.8m cash and human capital investment from Downing Partners, will certainly get us started along the path to making this a success.  Needless to say, we were thrilled with the results from the summer project by (the EDGE Fellows team), and this wouldn’t have happened without them.”
  • Manufacturing Company in Mentor was interested in seeing how it could take its existing 80+-year-old business of manufacturing food warmers to find new revenue generating opportunities.  By the end of the summer, EDGE Fellows identified two very promising opportunities, including partnering with other NE Ohio companies in need of manufacturing outsourcing and identifying a $50M – $100M emerging market as well as partners and recommendations for entering as a leader in this field.  EDGE Fellows also forged relationships with the University of Akron Research Foundation which is licensing proprietary technology to accelerate new product development.
  • A manufacturing company that sells its primary product to hospitals (Cleveland) wanted to assess the opportunity for alternative packaging options that might help it access untapped markets.  After nearly 125 surveys and interviews with medical professions, the EDGE Fellows provided concrete feedback which is allowing the company to invest in new packaging processes and product delivery.  Since then, company has made at least two new hires and developed an innovation team to implement the recommendations from the research.
  • Flavorseal (formerly Carroll Manufacturing & Sales) (Avon) launched FlavorWraps in 2009 and is now a multi-million dollar enterprise, which added a 63,000 square foot warehouse to accommodate growth. The company changed its name following the success of new lines.
  • World Shipping/NewPort Tank Container (Rocky River) implemented an innovative way to utilize its shipping containers.  The students’ research demonstrated a potential $7M in annual savings as well as providing new shipping markets.
  • Ashtabula Rubber Company (Ashtabula) identified new ways to reuse and recycle, providing opportunities for significant reduction of waste and new revenue opportunities.
  • Parker Hannifin/Parflex (Mayfield Heights/Ravenna) has successfully entered the medical device and catheter markets as a direct result of student research efforts.
  • Tesla Nanocoatings (Canton) has identified new markets and strategies for utilizing a revolutionary corrosion-control coating, which provides significant cost savings in the application process and lasts twice as long as leading products.  They are in the process of securing up long-term deals with international partners (including a $55M opportunity in southeast Asia).
  • Mold Masters International (Mentor) wanted to explore opportunities to diversify its product lines and potentially enter into the burgeoning medical device industry.  EDGE Fellows explored possible industry partners and opportunities — which resulted in a new sale before the end of their project.
  • Orbital Research (Cleveland) wanted to assess markets for monitoring fitness and training programs to understand where their technology stood currently and where future opportunities lay.  In just a year, Orbital Research has been able to renegotiate contracts and even explore new, promising markets in consumer electronics as a direct result of the EDGE Fellows research.  According to Tony Opperman, Director of Business Development: “The EDGE Fellows’ attention to detail and thorough analysis led to their creation of several valuable reports for the company. They were able to identify competitors we had not considered and find evidence of market needs. Several times the information they gathered was used in delivering reports to our customers.”

Contact Chris Keller, EDGE Fellows Program Director, to learn more.