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Plug and Play accelerator gains another major animal health backer: Hill’s Pet Nutrition

DATE POSTED:September 15, 2020

TOPEKA — Hill’s Pet Nutrition is the latest company to throw its support behind a new, Topeka-based animal health accelerator. 

“For over a century, Hill’s Pet Nutrition has been a cornerstone in the Topeka business community. They continue to be at the forefront of innovation and are a key driver in Topeka’s role in the animal health corridor,” Katrin Bridges, Greater Topeka Partnership’s senior vice president of innovation, said in a release announcing the company as the second founding partnering in the Plug and Play Accelerator’s-backed program. 

Click here to read more about Bridges and the emerging culture of innovation in Topeka. 

“We are thrilled about this partnership and the new opportunities it will generate for Topeka and Shawnee County.”

Hill’s Pet — the maker of Prescription, Science Diet, Healthy Advantage and Bioactive dog and cat food — joins Cargill in co-founding the program, which is expected to virtually welcome its first 10 startups to the animal health corridor this fall.

Once COVID-19 prompted social distancing measures are relaxed, Plug and Play’s goal is to bring multiple cohorts to Topeka each year for it in-person accelerator program.

Click here to learn more about the partnership between Cargill and Plug and Play. 

“We are excited to have Plug and Play join the animal health corridor in continuing to build breakthrough innovation and — equally as important —  to continue attracting great talent, investment and resources to the corridor,” said Yvonne Hsu, U.S. vice president of marketing for Hill’s Pet and KC Animal Health Corridor board chair. 

The program is expected to generate a “paradigm shift to research and development” within the region, added Dave Baloga, vice president of science and technology at Hill’s Pet. 

“Hill’s has a rich innovation pipeline and welcomes the opportunity to collaborate with startups to accelerate the delivery of breakthrough innovation for pet nutrition,” Beluga continued. 

Katrin Bridges, Greater Topeka Partnership

Katrin Bridges, Greater Topeka Partnership

The company holds a dominant presence in Northeast Kansas, noted Bridges, detailing a 2019 commitment by Hill’s Pet that saw a $20 million expansion of its Topeka research center — a campaign focused on needs of small dogs or “Small Paws,” as well as developing engagement for veterinarians and other pet caregivers. 

“This partnership is momentous,” said Matt Pivarnik, CEO of Greater Topeka Partnership. 

“As a significant contributor to the world of animal health science, Hill’s Pet Nutrition’s support will significantly elevate the prestige, as well as increase the opportunities, of Topeka’s first innovation platform.”

The program is expected to announce additional program partners in the coming weeks. 

Interested partners and startups are encouraged to contact Plug and Play here.

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