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Research & Innovation

Research & Innovation Guide Ohio’s Global Economic Strategies

Innovation is both a key to success and a determining factor of resilience in uncertain times. As the global economy transitions from downturn to recovery, Ohio is positioned to lead the way thanks to world-class research and development (R&D) resources.  In Ohio, R&D is facilitated within an array of connected incubators, universities and private corporations. These networks channel investment, streamline invention, prepare workforces and accelerate commercialization.

The investments that drive economic growth and spur innovation come from a variety of public, private and philanthropic sources. In Ohio, they stem from strategic grants and collaborations that leverage institutions of excellence. This spirit of collaboration continues within JobsOhio’s new innovation strategy to attract companies in the fastest growing sectors and improve vitality in urban and rural settings across the state. One primary goal is to improve competitiveness across the entire innovation continuum — from increasing the amount of research, to the formation of new businesses, capital attraction and deliberate placemaking.

In March of 2020, JobsOhio joined Governor Mike DeWine, Lt. Governor Jon Husted, the University of Cincinnati and the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center to announce a first-of-its-kind partnership designed to build, retain and attract talent in Ohio by formally introducing the Cincinnati Innovation District™. This unique public-private partnership aims to accelerate more than 15,000 STEM graduates and $2 billion in research to bring in up to 20,000 new jobs and $3 billion in annual economic impact.

Research and innovation are ever-present in Ohio’s strategies to foster a resilient business climate and compete in the global economy. They bridge the gap between the pursuit of knowledge and speed to market.

Capital and Business Supporters

Capital fuels research and innovation. A statewide network of capital and business support, shepherded by the JobsOhio team, creates a continuum of assistance for company creation, early-stage seed and venture funding, and corporate partnerships to scale and reach market penetration. Between 2017 and 2019, venture capital growth in Ohio was up 146percent, compared with 56 percent among regional states and 58 percent nationally. For instance, substantial research and innovation investments across Ohio have also resulted in programs like the Entrepreneurial Service Provider Program (ESP), powered by $1.5 billion in investments from Ohio Third Frontier. The program has driven the formation of multiple ESPs participants like Rev1 Ventures in Columbus, CincyTech in Cincinnati, NextTech Ohio in Toledo, and JumpStart Inc. in Cleveland, which have helped to spark dozens of successful startups across the state.

These resources create opportunity and foster stability during uncertain times. Ohio has numerous capital and business supporters, see a sample below.

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Battelle is a private, nonprofit applied science and technology development company dedicated to solving the world’s most pressing issues with a focus on giving back to the communities where it operates. Battelle conducts research and development, manages laboratories, designs and manufactures products, and delivers critical services for its clients – which include multinational corporations, startups and government agencies.

  • In response to COVID-19, Battelle addressed the shortage of critical Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) by designing a system to effectively decontaminate N95 masks for reuse by the nation’s health care workforce. Working with the federal government, Battelle’s systems sterilized almost 34 million N95 masks per week.

Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC) and the Ohio Academic Resources Network (OARnet) represent more than $100 million in state investments and offer cutting-edge technology applications to improve education and enhance business.

  • OARnet is a next-generation broadband superhighway, giving businesses a single connection to Ohio’s R&D resources, including colleges and universities, K-12 schools, public broadcasting stations, academic medical centers, government agencies and partnering research organizations. OARnet helps businesses reduce operating costs and gives them access to a wide array of specialized tools, such as electron microscopes, that may be outside of their budget.
  • OSC, a supercomputer center, features scalable mid-range machines and provides clients with integrated hardware, software and consulting services all under the same roof.

The Unmanned Aircraft Systems Center (UASC) is a division of the Ohio Department of Transportation and serves as the premier UASC support agency for the state of Ohio. UASC is focused on commercializing UAS technology and supporting the community - both public and private partners - through research and development and safe integration into the National Airspace System (NAS).

  • SkyVision, developed by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) in collaboration with the Ohio UAS Center, is a $5 million mobile, ground-based detect-and-avoid system enabling the safe operation of UAS and advanced aircraft technologies.

NASA Glenn Research Center designs and develops innovative technology to advance NASA’s missions in aeronautics and space exploration. Its work enables faster, safer, more efficient, more environmentally-friendly aircraft and more efficient airspace operations. The center works to expand human and robotic exploration capabilities and identifies and infuses aerospace technologies and expertise into emerging markets.

Air Force Research Lab is the only organization wholly dedicated to leading the discovery, development and integration of war-fighting technologies for the nation’s air, space and cyberspace forces. The facility at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base researches aerospace systems, materials and manufacturing sensors among other things.

EWI is a nonprofit whose mission is to shape the future of manufacturing through innovative technology solutions. It is the leading engineering and technology organization in North America dedicated to developing, testing and implementing advanced manufacturing technologies.

Center for Innovative Food Technology (CIFT) has provided a unique blend of business solutions, innovation and technical expertise to the food processing, agricultural and manufacturing sectors. These services are designed to enhance the economic performance of the industries and create jobs.

Transportation Research Center (TRC) is the largest independent vehicle test facility and proving grounds in the U.S. The nonprofit facility has approximately 4,500 acres of road courses, wooded trails and a 7.5-mile (12.1 km) high-speed oval test track, providing companies the ability to test a variety of vehicles and components in any kind of weather.

Smart Mobility Advanced Research and Test (SMART) Center is the result of a $45 million collaborative investment between the state of Ohio, The Ohio State University and JobsOhio for the first phase of a state-of-the-art hub for automated and autonomous testing. The all-new, 540-acre SMART Center will be the nation’s largest independent automotive proving ground.

Academic and Clinical Resources

Ohio’s roster of colleges and universities includes a number of schools with national and international reputations for research excellence. Four of them -- Ohio State University, Case Western Reserve University, University of Akron and University of Toledo -- are among the top 100 in the world for patents issued to protect new inventions.

Leading technology and business innovation centers and incubators, and world-class medical research programs are offered at schools across the state. Below are a few examples of the vast resources available to companies.

Innovation Centers & Incubators

  • Announced in 2020, the Cincinnati Innovation District™ is a unique public-private partnership, aiming to accelerate more than 15,000 STEM graduates, $2 billion in research, providing 20,000 new jobs and $3 billion in annual economic impact to the region.
  • The 1819 Innovation Hub at The University of Cincinnati is a 100,000-square-foot building that is outfitted with state-of-the-art technology. Incorporating shared office spaces, classrooms, huddle rooms and gathering spaces, the 1819 Innovation Hub aims to stimulate innovation and entrepreneurial activity. Three Fortune 500 companies have set up operations at UC, including Supermarket giant Kroger Co., consumer products company Procter & Gamble and Fifth Third Bank. The Innovation Hub is aimed at connecting businesses with UC faculty and students.
  • Sears think[box] at Case Western Reserve University illuminates the pathway for aspiring entrepreneurs and university researchers to create real-world impact. This world-class, public-access innovation center is a key to accessing a complete ecosystem for venture creation including everything from design and ideation resources to prototyping and fabrication equipment, as well as the legal and business expertise needed to launch startups in this incubator.
  • Ohio Innovation Exchange (OIEx) which is part of the Ohio Department of Higher Education, connects industry and other businesses with professors, students, equipment and facilities available at Ohio research universities. OIEx currently provides access to more than 13,000 faculty members and 600 resources from campuses and laboratories around the state with a mission to facilitate collaboration between Ohio’s leading academic and business minds.
  • University of Dayton Research Institute (UDRI) proposes and performs sponsored research that provides innovative solutions through quality research and advanced technology. The staff of over 500 people specialize in research, development, application and transition of technology in diverse fields, including materials, structures, energy, propulsion, manufacturing, sensors and intelligence and much more.
    • During the pandemic, UDRI developed software to quickly diagnose COVID-19, which was exclusively licensed by Greenville, South Carolina-based software development company Blue Eye Soft. The technology, which detected the presence of the COVID-19 disease on a dataset of chest X-rays in seconds with 98 percent accuracy, was adapted from existing medical diagnostic software in a matter of hours, then licensed in less than three days.
  • Innovation Center at Ohio University provides business incubation resources to fuel the economy in Athens, Ohio, and surrounding regions.
  • Youngstown Business Incubator is an internationally recognized program focused on the development of software and additive manufacturing companies in the Mahoning Valley. It was ranked the No. 1 high impact incubation program in North America by UBI Global in 2015.
  • Ohio Third Frontier is committed to transforming the state’s economy through the accelerated growth of diverse startup and early-stage technology companies. Businesses and entrepreneurs have access to a statewide network of resources through this nationally recognized initiative. The network provides access to business expertise, mentorship, capital and talent to help turn great ideas into thriving companies and well-paying jobs.

Medical Research

  • Cleveland Clinic is a nonprofit, multispecialty academic medical center that integrates clinical and hospital care with research and education. The Cleveland Clinic is one of the largest and most-respected hospitals in the country.
  • University Hospitals is a nonprofit health system affiliated with Case Western Reserve University. It includes more than 24,000 physicians and employees. It calls upon a vast network of primary care physicians, outpatient centers and hospitals.
  • The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center represents more than 1,000 physicians. Its medical school consistently ranks among the top 40 in the U.S. and among the top 15 public universities. The college’s innovative curriculum places students in clinical settings from the start of their first year.
  • Cincinnati Children’s Medical Center is a nonprofit, academic medical center that ranks among the top pediatric hospitals in the nation. It offers comprehensive clinical services from treatments for rare and complex conditions to well-child care.
  • Nationwide Children’s Hospital is one of the country’s largest not-for-profit, freestanding pediatric healthcare networks. Its Research Institute is ranked in the top 10 for National Institutes of Health funding among freestanding children's hospitals.

Ohio Technology Propels Business Forward

Ohio’s businesses community, institutions and educational organizations have worked collaboratively to build a thriving technology ecosystem, allowing traditional industries to innovate in order to meet the demands of the digital age and attracting investment from leading technology companies like Apple.

The integration of technology is a necessary evolution to be efficient, stay relevant and stay profitable. From healthtech to the internet of things (IoT), smart mobility and fintech, companies are adopting new technology and seeing success in Ohio. Companies in Ohio collaborate with each other, educational institutions and public and private entities to open joint innovation centers, spin off new ventures and pursue innovations.

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For example:

  • The Ohio State University collaborated with Apple to launch a comprehensive, university-wide digital learning initiative to support educational innovation for students and economic development opportunities for the community.
  • Kroger and leading British online grocer Ocado are slated to augment Kroger's digital and robotics capabilities and extend its omnichannel reach.
  • The Cleveland Foundation, Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland State University have formed an alliance around IoT to advance manufacturing, energy, health, and infrastructure/smart city sectors and building an IoT hub in Northeast Ohio.
  • Ohio’s internationally recognized hospitals have given rise to new companies using healthtech to detect heart disease early. For instance, Quest Diagnostics established the first national center of excellence for cardiometabolic disorders in Cleveland, Ohio. The Heartlab offers innovative, scientifically proven, and medically relevant biomarkers that are predictive of cardiovascular risk.
  • Accenture has strategically located one of its 11 North American innovations hubs in Columbus, Ohio in order to provide software and technological solutions to help businesses win in the digital economy.

Ohio has a thriving technology ecosystem made up of startups, Fortune 500 and 1000 companies, and everything in between. Some of these companies are completely dedicated to a tech solution, others are looking for ways to use tech to make some element of business better.

The alliance between Honda and the City of Marysville is a great example of a private-public partnership as well as smart technology collaboration occurring in Ohio. Honda and Marysville worked together to install connected vehicle technology at one of the city’s busiest intersections to improve and advance traffic safety.

Across the state public and private investments in the development, testing and manufacturing of smart mobility technologies totals $500 million. These investments include FlyOhio, an initiative with the Ohio UAS Center to make Ohio airspace among the first in the nation ready to fly beyond line of sight, and DriveOhio, a collaboration between Ohio Department of Transportation, research and private industry partners to build Ohio's infrastructure for smart mobility and to facilitate smart mobility innovations.

Ohio is home to several diverse industries. Whether it is agribusiness or financial services, energy or logistics, companies are making the digital shift to stay relevant. As tech-savvy companies continue to evolve, no matter their goals, they are finding the resources and supportive environment in Ohio to make it happen.

Public-Private Partnerships

In Ohio, combining the visions and resources of public and private entities dedicated to research and innovation has led to the development of networks and technology that bolster business. Combined, the state of Ohio and private industries invested over $13 billion in science and engineering research, as of 2017, ranking Ohio amongst the top states for research and development investment.

Below are some of the public-private partnerships accessible to companies looking to thrive in Ohio:

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Below are some of the public-private partnerships accessible to companies looking to thrive in Ohio:

  • JobsOhio Research & Development (R&D) Center Grant Program provides qualified companies with an incentive to establish new R&D centers in Ohio and position the state favorably to win production facilities after R&D products and services are commercialized. With up to $100 million of overall funding assistance available for companies as part of the grant program, JobsOhio makes strategic investments in new R&D centers that support targeted industries and the evolution of the Ohio economy such as: additive manufacturing (3D printing), advanced materials, aero propulsion, autonomous vehicles, biomedical, cybersecurity, data analytics, financial technology (fintech), energy storage/fuel cells, Internet of Things (IoT), sensors and unmanned aerial systems.
  • America Makes is the nation’s leading and collaborative partner in additive manufacturing (AM) and 3D printing (3DP) technology research and innovation. Established in 2012, Youngstown, Ohio-based America Makes is structured as a public-private partnership that works to innovate and accelerate AM/3DP and increase the nation’s global manufacturing competitiveness. America Makes is the first of eight Manufacturing Innovation Institutes established and managed by the U.S. Department of Defense. And in late 2019, America Makes and the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute announced a new, seven-year Cooperative Agreement (CA) with the Department of Air Force, Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL).
  • Ohio Federal Research Network (OFRN) accelerates Ohio’s innovation economy by building vibrant, statewide, university-based research collaborations that meet the requirements of Ohio’s federal laboratories and partnering with the commercial sector to create new products and high quality jobs in Ohio. OFRN engages a broad array of stakeholders, fortifying Ohio’s high-tech research and workforce capabilities and expanding federal contracting opportunities in areas such as national defense, space exploration and aeronautics.
  • Cintrifuse is made up of people, funds and ideas all dedicated to establishing a stronger tech presence that has improved the economy for the Greater Cincinnati area. It is a public-private partnership created to drive the next phase of growth for the region – innovation that will be enabled and delivered by startups.
  • Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation, IACMI, is a partnership of industry and academic institutions, as well as federal, state and local governments. This diverse partnership validates manufacturing technologies that respond to private industry’s need for faster and more cost effective, material, and energy-efficient composite manufacturing, including recycling at the end of product life. JobsOhio became a charter member of the Institute in 2016, and has collaborated on seven projects with Ohio company participation, committing nearly $1.2 million and leveraging an additional $7.1 million in private and IACMI funds. These projects have the potential to create more than 1,600 jobs. Overall, Ohio is a key player in the composites industry, with over 260 companies based in Ohio employing over 24,000. A critical input for composites is carbon fiber, for which Ohio has a highly compelling production value proposition.