Training has begun for eight startup companies whose growth is being given a boost by a partnership of Tri-ED, ezone and UpTech. The goal is to create technology jobs.

In May, UpTech, Northern Kentucky’s “business super accelerator,” announced its inaugural round of $100,000 investments to the eight companies from across the Tristate. Besides the hefty financing, winners also receive office space and professional support services from Northern Kentucky University College of Informatics.

The entrepreneurs have been launched on a six-month program at NKU designed to teach the fundamentals of operating a successful company.

UpTech was established in January as the result of a partnership between Northern Kentucky Tri-County Economic Development Corporation (Tri-ED), Vision 2015, Campbell County Economic Progress Authority, Northern Kentucky University, and Northern Kentucky ezone, a division of Tri-ED that first came up with the program’s concept.

According to ezone vice president Casey Barach, the future of Northern Kentucky relies on equity-backed technology companies. The region has a strong manufacturing culture, but Barach says technology is needed as well.

One of the biggest questions: Where are Tristate students going to work? That question seemed more relevant than ever after last year’s top three graduates from NKU’s College of Informatics moved to California’s Silicon Valley for jobs.

“It’s the classic brain drain,” Barach says, “We need to build some companies for these graduates so they’ll have an exciting place to work.”

The solution lies in attracting entrepreneurs from across the U.S. and all over the world to the Tristate, helping them develop new and innovative ideas, and showing them that Northern Kentucky is the perfect place for their businesses to take root.

“If we were going to drive that idea home, we knew we needed to create an accelerator program that was bigger and better than anyone else’s,” he says. “We needed attention.”

The result was UpTech, and the program differentiated itself in a big way. While most business accelerators provide $20,000 investments to promising startups, UpTech chose to award $100,000 to its selections.

Likewise, UpTech is the first accelerator to be tied to a public university. The partnership with NKU’s College of Informatics, which was founded in 2005, allows future companies to engage with locals and form connections with a larger part of the community, according to Barach.

Nearly 70 startups were in the running for the first round of $100,000 investments when the application period ended in March. The most innovative ideas were selected by a team of nationally recognized entrepreneurs, analysts and investment experts from leading companies like Cisco, Dell and Procter & Gamble.

It’s a promising start but just the beginning, Barach says.

“We want to hand out fifty $100,000 investments in the next five years,” he says. “But we’ll take it one step at a time.”