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Student Innovation and Entrepreneurship

The innovation and entrepreneurial landscape has improved at Ohio State in recent years. Being next to Columbus, one of the fastest growing startup city in the country, students are becoming more aware of the startup community around them and are beginning to take more interest in entrepreneurship. This shift in student mindset is complemented by institutional and organizational transitions as well. The Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship(CIE) is putting out more programming directed at those students who are interested in entrepreneurship and connecting students with the mentorship and resources they need to pursue their ventures. The Best Of Student Startup Competition (BOSS), is CIE's signature event that brings together the best startup ides on campus in a competition setting where the top team is rewarded with $1,000. Student organizations on campus are also putting more focus on entrepreneurship in order to foster more student innovation. The Business Builders Club, host pitch competitions like IdeaPitch and signature speaker events like the Entrepreneurial Spectacular in order to spark more passion for innovation on campus and connect current founders to the resources they need. Over all there has been a rise in student entrepreneurship at Ohio State and this will continue to be the case as students become more and more successful in their ventures and attract more and more attention from venture capital firms from around Columbus and beyond.

Faculty Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Faculty at Ohio State are renowned academic researchers, creating applications with potential for widespread impact in areas ranging from third world public health solutions, all the way to access to basic resources and materials at incredibly low price points. However, recent assessments of faculty perception of I&E on campus has yielded some troubled thoughts on what faculty thinks is available to help see their ideas through the product lifecycle, and what is actually available. In fact, there are several organizations on campus aimed at assisting faculty. Adjunct faculty in the Department of Biomedical informatics have been widely successful with a number of commercial activities, ranging from consultant work to founding and creating their own software and clinical workflow startups. In fact, many of these startups have gone on to become mainstream components of the Ohio State University workflow and gold standards, a feat depicting the high levels of support that are offered to faculty through organizations like TechColumbus, BioOhio and the Technology Commercialization Office and IDEA Studio at Ohio State.  Recently, Ohio State became part of the KERN Entrepreneurship Education Network. Part of this partnership looks to increase the amount of faculty engagement with I&E. Lastly, the Institute for Materials Research connects its network of faculty and researchers to companies looking for help solving their most pressing problems. Utilizing an interdisciplinary approach, they provide exceptional results and access to companies. 

University Technology Transfer Function

The Technology Commercialization Office (TCO) at The Ohio State University offers excellent services ranging from IP strategy and protection to idea generation and student entrepreneurial incubation. In particular, programs like Wake Up Start Up and the BOSS Competition encourage company formation around cutting-edge student ideas, whether or not businesses have been developed around that idea already. Moreover, the TCO offers unparalleled opportunities for entrepreneurs who are really dedicated game changers - access to key networks, introductions to TechColumbus and other key investors, accelerators and growth partners are just a few of the several functionalities that the TCO provides. The main complain of the TCO is that they do not give students easy access to the technology that Ohio State researchers for them to form companies around. 

With regards to tech commercialization, faculty members are unaware of the many beneficial resources readily available with help of the TCO. As a result, Ohio State has seen subpar commercialization, both in terms of quantity and quality when it comes to pipeline products. As a result, the university has seen several clubs form, with a mission to lubricate the pipeline. One of the notable organizations involved here is Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM). 

Regional and Local Economic Development Efforts

The Ohio State University has partnered with several well-established institutions with the intention of recruiting talent and promoting regional economic development in the area. Partnerships with TechColumbus and Drive Capital have generated millions in value, while providing entrepreneurs, both students, and faculty, with the opportunity to incubate, accelerate and then fundraise within one geographic vicinity. The Ohio State University is known for its excellent academic research, and in an effort to sponsor truly translational innovation, has partnered with these groups to build value. 

The Ohio State University is also dedicated to its support of regional powerhouses - Columbus is rated the most intelligent city in the nation for its plethora of big companies and corporate power, including but not limited to Cardinal Health, JPM, Limited Brands and more. This has encouraged more big business in the area, which thereby introduces the need for innovative startups, which often see support from Ohio State's many partners. 

Similarly, partnerships with Venture Capitalists and Institutional funds such as Lumos Innovation, Rev1 Ventures, and Prototype Capital has intertwined the campus with the thriving local resources. Students can interact with this network to grow their ideas and business while receiving mentorship and economic support from the experts in the area. As Columbus climbs into being the fastest growing city in America, it is crucial that Ohio State students take advantage of the countless opportunities in their own backyard.

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Ohio State's Entrepreneurial Rating

Objectively, The Ohio State University deserves an 6/10 for entrepreneurial activity. This is simply due to the fact that there has been significant growth and support of innovation for student ideas. The university has created several resources for student idea generation and incubation, and Columbus has a thriving startup community, now home to the largest maker space in the country. Dr. Camp, an Executive Director at the Center for Entrepreneurship at Fisher College of Business, is incredibly supportive of the I&E ecosystem on campus and has helped facilitate the development and growth of highly technical concepts into working business models that are investor and customer worthy. 

The Ohio State University is lacking, however, in firmly convincing faculty of the importance and pragmatism underlying commercialization of their ideas. The commercialization effort should be more succinct and efficient with the faculty taking a more active approach in strategizing. With a top-notch cancer treatment and research facility, The Ohio State University should be generating a lot more game-changing drugs, diagnostics and research tools that we have seen in the market in the last decade. Assuming the activity of OSU UIFs remains high, this rating can be expected to improve on both quantitative and qualitative metrics.

Moreover, while the Ohio State Univerisity recognizes the entrepreneurial work of its faculty, it is missing a large piece of the puzzle: its students. On the campus, students are lacking unique spaces to join together and create. Whether it involves design thinking, product development, or simply being surrounded by like-minded entrepreneurial students, there are no places on campus to do so. It is necessary to provide an area for students to foster a community of changemakers that will drive the University towards student-led success.

Related Links

The Ohio State University Student Priorities 

Contributors

George Valcarcel

Liyang Feng 

Kai Vogeler 

Juan Tramontin

Peeyush Shrivastava