Ohio’s Innovation Districts: Solidifying the State’s Position as a Global Healthcare Leader
Alina Harastasanu•Published: Thu Sep 21 2023
Ohio has long been known as a powerhouse in manufacturing innovation in the U.S., and until recently, the state has been overlooked in the areas of life science, technology, and industrial innovation and R&D. Thanks to one of the nation’s most ambitious and comprehensive economic development initiatives, that is changing. Ohio has created an Innovation Strategy designed to attract top healthcare companies, world-class researchers, and investors from around the world—and firmly establish Ohio as a global leader in future-oriented sectors.
The state is home to 14 top-ranked hospital systems and 4,100 bioscience companies, including industry heavy-hitters like Amgen, which is opening one of its most high-tech manufacturing operations in central Ohio in 2024, Sarepta, which recently opened its Genetic Therapies Center of Excellence and gained FDA clearance on its Duchene muscular dystrophy gene therapy, and Abbott, which just announced this year that it would build a $536 million manufacturing facility in Bowling Green. But to further catalyze innovation, JobsOhio, the state’s private non-profit economic development corporation, took the concept of research parks and supercharged it. JobsOhio, together with its partners, which include the state of Ohio, leading research institutions, universities, and private corporations, plan to invest $3 billion over 10 years to fuel the creation of three world-class Innovation Districts in Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Columbus.
These Innovation Districts are expected to inspire more than 47,000 new STEM graduates, fuel an estimated 60,000 new jobs, and generate up to $9 billion in annual economic impact to the state over 10 years. JobsOhio’s investment in innovation has a long-term focus on unleashing the state’s leading institutions to do more of what they do best:
- (1) scale translational research that leads to dynamic new companies;
- (2) more than triple the pool of STEM graduates that corporate partners need throughout the state,
- (3) and help create physical environments (or placemaking) conducive to collaboration, which will keep highly trained workers in the state working on innovations that previously had left the state and were built elsewhere.
“Ohio’s Innovation Districts are strong individually in specialized areas, including gene therapy, emerging pathogen research, and pediatric oncology,” said J.P. Nauseef, JobsOhio president and CEO. “Working side-by-side with our partners, Team Ohio is building on Ohio’s reputation as one of the most attractive places on the globe to find a network of like-minded, hardworking, talented researchers that will positively impact the future of healthcare worldwide.”
Cincinnati Innovation District
The Cincinnati Innovation District, launched in March 2020 and anchored by the University of Cincinnati and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, just named #1 Children’s Hospital in the U.S. by U.S. News and World Report, is a unique ecosystem that plans to accelerate more than 15,000 STEM graduates and fuel an additional $2 billion in research investment in a ten year period. That research will apply ultramodern technologies across multiple life sciences and technology disciplines in the Greater Cincinnati Region. The district is already demonstrating success: in 2017, the University of Cincinnati had developed just one to two start-ups per year; as of last year, that number had increased to 75, with more than $100 million in investment dollars. The University of Cincinnati and Cincinnati Children’s hit an all-time high in research spending in 2022 and the University of Cincinnati welcomed students and researchers to the Digital Futures Complex in late 2022 (the first Innovation District research building to open state-wide).
Cleveland Innovation District
Already at the forefront of advancement in technology and healthcare, the Cleveland Innovation District, launched in January 2021, is a collaborative endeavor that includes Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland State University, MetroHealth, and University Hospital. Over the next decade, this district plans to leverage talent and research across multiple world-class clinical and academic institutions to drive the next generation of healthcare technology and create 20,000 new jobs. In March of this year, for example, Cleveland Clinic partnered with IBM and the state of Ohio to unveil IBM’s Quantum System, the first quantum computer dedicated to healthcare research. Also, in March, Case Western Reserve University researchers made national news for ground breaking advancements in providing a sense of touch to amputees using prosthetics.
Columbus Innovation District
The Columbus Innovation District, a joint effort of The Ohio State University and Nationwide Children’s Hospital, launched in February 2021 and establishes inviting and amenity-rich places for leading educational and healthcare research organizations to collaborate. The district is expected to drive $1.1 billion of investment in real estate and research, including an Interdisciplinary Research Facility and an Energy Advancement and Innovative Center. Already the district’s momentum in Ohio’s largest city has attracted one of the country’s top real estate developers, Tishman Speyer, to help design Carmenton, a mixed-use development offering the district a community that exists beyond the traditional workday, including places to live, dine and play.
The formation of these Innovation Districts—the kinds of close-knit healthcare ecosystems with a proven track record of turning ideas into new companies and technologies—demonstrate the state’s commitment to growing its high-tech healthcare sector and building a solid talent pipeline for long-term success. Young people aiming to invest in their careers have traditionally looked to the coasts for exciting growth companies—but they also had to make some tough quality-of-life trade-offs.
Now, they can find those opportunities in multiple cities in Ohio, where the cost of living and doing business is far lower. By nurturing the types of communities that can attract and retain top talent, Ohio offers global investors the confidence that putting down roots in the state will pay dividends well into the future.
To learn more about Ohio’s Innovation Districts and how they might be a fit for you, contact Alina Harastasanu, JobsOhio Director of European Business Development, at firstname.lastname@example.org or +1 (614) 301-3536.