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How McKinney’s New ‘Plug And Play’ Solution Will Help Drive More Tech Investment In The Texas City


McKinney, a Texas city 30 minutes north of Downtown Dallas, has become a hub for new technology companies

One reason tech companies are drawn to McKinney is that it supports innovation and growth through its economic programs. An example is the Innovation Fund from the McKinney Economic Development Corp., which was started more than three years ago and is seeing considerable growth.

“We’ve created an Innovation Fund program to help small businesses get their footing in McKinney,” MEDC board Chairman Brian Loughmiller said. “Our goal is not only to inspire more businesses in the city but be the catalyst for the next big brand to headquarter here.”

When the Innovation Fund started, it offered grants ranging from $50K to $500K. Soon, MEDC decided to expand its reach to help more companies in the North Texas and Dallas-Fort Worth area. 

MEDC started working with Silicon Valley-based Plug and Play, an innovation accelerator program, in 2023 to help take MEDC’s initiatives to the next level. 

“With the Innovation Fund hosting 43 portfolio companies and growing, Plug and Play will provide world-class services — fine-tuned to each startup's needs — to give McKinney and DFW startups a higher likelihood of success,” MEDC Marketing Manager Luke Gajary said. 

Plug and Play has a global reach and finds unique and high-potential startups from around the world and connects them with the Innovation Fund, as well as investors, businesses and universities in the DFW region, he said.

The Innovation Fund continues to expand, making five investments in new businesses, committing $250K in nondilutive funding since August 2023. Gajary said this is only the start, as Plug and Play will be pivotal in attracting top startups worldwide.

Plug and Play collaborated with MEDC to create a startup accelerator in McKinney focusing on enterprise and artificial intelligence. This is one of many projects in their strategic partnership, Gajary said.

“Plug and Play has tremendous experience in supporting startups through funding, technology development, hiring employees and conquering regulatory hurdles,” he said. “We have begun to create an ecosystem in McKinney for early stage technology startups, and Plug and Play will leverage the existing work, add in some of their magic and raise the chance of any startup in Collin County succeeding.”

Since its inception, the Innovation Fund has invested in 43 early stage startups, projecting 733 new local jobs. These statistics have been spread across key industries, such as business-to-business, software as a service, enterprise solutions, AI and machine learning, Gajary said. 

Loughmiller said one of the reasons the Innovation Fund is a success is because it carefully reviews each startup before giving it a grant, which helps it find top-notch talent that can have a positive influence on the city’s tech ecosystem. 

“Our board does a full risk assessment to determine the history of the candidate, business potential of the startup and positive impact it'll have in the community before it approves the grant,” he said.

Loughmiller said that if the business has been headquartered in McKinney for a minimum of three years, MEDC can provide additional grants for its expansion, giving it more incentive to stay in the city.

Before partnering with Plug and Play, some businesses in McKinney found it difficult to engage with international markets or faced long sales cycles within corporations, MEDC Project Manager Mike Wilkes said. Plug and Play helps to break down walls, connecting startups to new markets and its network of corporate decision-makers.

The partnership has helped nurture all of this potential while utilizing Plug and Play’s longstanding success as a corporate innovation supplier. In combination with its corporate network of 600 of the Fortune 1000 companies, Wilkes predicted the bridge with MEDC will help turn the stream of businesses choosing to locate in McKinney into a “highway” for tech growth. 

“With the solid foundation of the Innovation Fund and supportive organizations throughout DFW, the time is right for Plug and Play to help take us to the next level,” he said.

This article was produced in collaboration between the McKinney Economic Development Corp. and Studio B. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.

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