School:Ohio state university

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Student Innovation and Entrepreneurship

The Ohio State University is a flagship in forward-thinking and innovation in the Midwest. Being next to Columbus, one of the fastest growing startup cities in the country, students are becoming more aware of the entrepreneurial community around them thus leading them to take more interest in entrepreneurship. This progress in student endeavours related to innovation is complemented by institutional and organizational transitions on campus. The Keenan Center for Entrepreneurship (KCE), a university-wide center is supporting and establishing more programming directed towards students from every discipline who are interested in entrepreneurship and establishing connections between students and mentors, providing the resources they need to pursue their ventures. Additionally, the Center for Innovative Studies (CIS), within the Fisher College of Business, is a center for innovative thinking on campus.

The Best Of Student Startup Competition (BOSS) is one of KCE’s signature events that brings together the best startup ideas on campus in a competition setting where the top team wins money and direct connection to industry expertise.. Another growing KCE event is LaunchpadOSU, an accessible, on-campus startup weekend event designed to bring students from every major together around entrepreneurship. Several student organizations on campus are also focusing on entrepreneurship in order to foster more student innovation.

OHI/O hosts a variety of competitions on campus that target computer science, data analytics, and engineering majors. Through events like HackOHI/O, MakeOHI/O, and Data AI, students are able to brainstorm and develop prototypes that spark impactful and creative projects that often reach beyond the tech industry. These events provide opportunities for networking, teamwork, and innovation.

The Business Builders Club hosts pitch competitions like IdeaPitch and signature events like The Startup Career Fair in order to provide a foundation for innovation on campus and connect current founders to the resources they need. Business Builders Club has grown significantly over the past two years, indicating an overall rise in student entrepreneurship initiatives at Ohio State. This increased interest and entrepreneurship will continue to grow and evolve as more alumni founders come back to campus and more venture firms enter into Columbus looking for early stage startups.

Faculty Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Faculty at The Ohio State University 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 while maximizing cost efficiency. However, recent assessments of faculty perception of innovation and entrepreneurship on campus has yielded some troubled thoughts on what faculty thinks is available to help see their ideas through the product life-cycle, and what is actually available. Faculty have a misperception that there is a lack of resources designated towards them specifically.

The reality of the situation is that there are several organizations on campus aimed at assisting faculty in entrepreneurial endeavors. Adjunct faculty in the Department of Biomedical Informatics have been widely successful with a number of commercial activities, ranging from consultancy 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 Rev1 Ventures, BioOhio and the Technology Commercialization Office and IDEA Studio at Ohio State.

More recent innovative efforts from faculty members have sparked new ideas that address how current technology can increase productivity and engagement in the classroom. Innovate hosts an annual conference at Ohio State than brings educators, administrators, and tech-professionals together to enhance student learning through reimagined best practices and innovative approaches that utilize recent technological advances. From incorporating virtual and augmented reality into learning methodologies to addressing access and affordability, this group is innovating solutions to some of the university’s most pressing issues.

Overall, engagement with large corporate innovation remains heavily in the silos of specific research departments. As a whole, the university is looking to use their Corporate Development office as a tool to facilitate touchpoints with companies looking for innovative technologies or sponsored university projects. One of the best examples of this is the Institute for Materials Research which connects its network of faculty and researchers to companies looking to solve their toughest problems with physical materials.

Recently, Ohio State became part of the KERN Entrepreneurship Education Network. Essentially, this partnership provides a foundation 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 entrepreneurship and company formation around cutting-edge student ideas to push the bounds of what is possible at Ohio State. Moreover, the TCO offers unparalleled opportunities for entrepreneurs who are passionately 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.

Still, the main pain point of the Technology Commercialization Office is that they do not give students easy enough access to the technology that Ohio State researches. This disables them from forming companies around these innovative technological advances.

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. To combat this, 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 of dollars in value, while providing entrepreneurs, both students and faculty, with the opportunity to incubate, accelerate and fundraise within one geographic vicinity. Ohio State 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, thereby introducing the need for innovative startups. Many of the agile organizations often see support from Ohio State's many big partners.

Similarly, partnerships with Venture Capitalists and Institutional Funds such as Lumos Innovation, Rev1 Ventures and Prototype Capital have infused the campus with countless resources from the thriving local community. Students can interact with this network to grow their ideas and businesses while receiving mentorship and economic support from experts in the area. As Columbus climbs towards becoming the fastest growing city in America, it is crucial that Ohio State students take advantage of the infinite 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

Current Fellows

Andrew Benisek

Kaylee Chang

Nolan Hanna

Angela Heaney

Tinia Larkins

Amun Mehta

Mick Rash

Astha Rastogi

Lauren Saggar

Jen Schlegel


UIF Alumni

Erica Carlson

George Valcarcel

Liyang Feng 

Kai Vogeler 

Juan Tramontin

Peeyush Shrivastava