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Midwest High Growth Tech Startups to Watch 2022: Columbus

Laura Cowan

By Laura Cowan

Laura K. Cowan is a tech editor and journalist whose work has focused on promoting sustainability initiatives for automotive, green tech, and conscious living media outlets.

Columbus graphic

Columbus has a number of partnerships pulling together various cities around the state to pool resources on building a tech ecosystem, and it's working. Photo credit The Columbus Region, whose cross-county partnerships create a synergistic ecosystem for a state that is spread out and diverse in tech industries.

Ever since Drive Capital was founded by a partnership between local and Silicon Valley VCs, Columbus has taken off as a center for insurtech and healthtech startups. Forbes now calls it "the #1 city for startups and the top remerging city for venture capital." The traditional presence of insurance companies in the region has even encouraged many healthtech startups to move headquarters to the region. Columbus has experienced tremendous growth in 2021 and is earning its own star on the map as a tech ecosystem.

Among the many companies we try to keep up with here at Cronicle in Michigan and the Great Lakes region of the Midwest, there are some startups that really stand out. Here are our criteria for Midwest highest growth startups to watch in 2022:

  • Midwest base or major offices in a Great Lakes Midwest state
  • Major expansion, IPO, or large funding rounds raised
  • Scalable technology in a growth sector
  • Priority for addressing customer needs with an eye to sustainability, social or climate impact, and diversity and inclusion

Columbus High-Growth Tech Startups 2022

ScriptDrop raise a $15 million Series A in 2020, for a total of $27 million since 2017. In 2021, this prescription delivery and tracking startup partnered with Adheris to offer patients prescription adherence solutions, helping them stick with taking their medication. It's a unique idea with good funding behind it, and headquartered in the perfect place for healthtech: Columbus.

Bold Penguin announced in January it will be partnering with the Agency Collective to act as its exclusive small business insurance distributor partner. Bold Penguin has had some serious funding since its founding in 2016 and has worked with Nationwide, Progressive, and Allstate, and we're thrilled they've found the partnerships to keep them growing.

Deep Lens matches patients with the right clinical trials, improving both patient outcomes and the process of enrolling studies. Deep Lens has raised $17 million since its 2017 founding, and uses a unique AI technology to identify the correct patients to accelerate oncology trial enrollment. We can see this technology having broad applications and love the innovative use of AI for this use case.

Forge Biologics is a gene therapy development engine. They raised $40 million investment from Drive Capital in 2020 and work out of a custom-designed facility. In October, Forge announced a partnership with Solid Biosciences for viral vector contract development and and cGMP manufacturing.

Prevedere takes global data on economic indicators, plugs it into AI and machine learning algorithms, and extract economic and industry forecasting insights. They recently raised $32 million in funding, and, paired with some experienced humans for guidance and analytics, we think this technology could be going places.

PriorAuthNow automates the prior authorization process between medical providers and insurance companies, which speeds up the authorization process for patients. The startup raised $10 million in VC funding recently, and is a great example of a Columbus startup that is serving a niche in a useful way.

READY Robotics created an industrial OS for robots and automation. With $42 million total funding and $23 million raised in 2020, we're expecting great news out of this startup in the coming years. The best thing about READY Robotics? Their interface is designed to make automation and programming robots easy for anyone. It's often the interface and useability that's been missing in outdated technical interfaces in factory automation, for example, and a startup like READY could smooth accessibility to the creation of a whole new generation of robots and automated tools for multiple industries.

battleface is in the insurtech space, creating insurance coverage for travelers facing everything from lost baggage to COVID-19 delays. These days that doesn't seem to extraneous. Battleface raised $12 million from Drive Capital, who encouraged the startup to relocate headquarters to Columbus from the UK in 2021. Drive Capital practically started the Columbus tech startup scene -- at least enabled it to thrive -- and they know Columbus is going places.

Olive AI is an automation company creating "the internet of healthcare." Which, if you think about it for a second, is about darned time. The startup aims to reduce redundancy from layers of legacy technology in healthcare and help everyone start fresh for a simpler interface in healthtech. Olive raised nearly $400 million in 2020. They now have new partnerships, their own in-house venture studio, you name it. Olive also offers AI as a service, which is rather fabulous.

Upstart creates consolidated loans for credit card, student loan and vehicle debt. The startup went public at the end of 2020, raising $180 million in their IPO. It's another simplified technology that makes loans more transparent. There's no pre-payment penalty, also, which we love. They already have 1.4 million customers and have been featured in Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, and CNBC.

Beam Dental is unique among healthtech startups -- at least for now. That's because their patient engagement programs involve a connected toothbrush that records regular brushing and offers rewards for good self-care. We can see this type of technology coming for programs helping everyone from the substance-addicted to diabetics in coming years. Beam Dental raised $90 million as of 2020, $80 million in 2021, and were named an Inc. Best Place to Work 2021 Honoree.

Branch Financial offers home and auto insurance coverage with a simple application that helps you shop the best rates. This Columbus startup closed a $24 million in Series A in 2020, and their unique offerings like extended covering for rideshare drivers help explain why.

Loop handles returns for Shopify brands, making sure that the returns process is easy for customers. Loop has raised $10 million since 2017 funding for their e-commerce platform, and claims to have retained 40% of revenue or $440 million for their brands, which include allbirds, brooklinen, puravida and more.

Root Inc. is an insurtech startup that went public in 2020 and raised $724.4 million in their IPO. They focus on rewriting the rules of the archaic insurance industry based on an approach that is all about "fairness, simplicity and personalization." In 2017 this tiny startup had 15 employees. Now they have over 900. And hiring.

Matic Insurance Services moved from California to Columbus and raised $24 million in Series B. They also help users shop for home and auto quotes, but also offer an additional service of continuous rate monitoring so you can save even more money in the future by working with them. They work with Allstate, Clearcover, Progressive, Nationwide, Travelers insurance and others.

Aware provides modern enterprise with governance, risk and compliance controls through modern technology. They analyze human behavior within digital conversations to help companies gain insights through their collaboration data. They raised $12 million in Series B. Aware is already used by AstraZeneca, Farmers Insurance and many other companies.

Finite State raised $12.5 million in Series A for their automation tool for product security for connected devices and embedded systems. Finite State tools give organizations visibility of the supply chain that creates connected devices and embedded systems, helping to manage the process.

What Will 2022 Bring Midwest Tech?

You can see from our extensive list that we can't choose just a few startups that stand out in Columbus tech or any other Midwest tech hub. Midwest tech is growing fast, and the challenge of keeping up with news and innovation between the coasts is a growing one. We hope you'll join us into 2022 as Cronicle Tech News continues to delve into the developing story of the rise of Midwest tech and startup hubs. Congrats to all our tech startup mentioned here, and to all the many companies we can't fit into our coverage but who also deserve mentions. We will do our best to catch up with you in the new year!

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