Columbus Tech-based Economic Development Success Takes National Stage

When State Science and Technology Institute (SSTI) decided to hold their 2016 annual conference in Columbus, Rev1, OSU, and Ohio University were delighted to sponsor the event.

Where better to meet than in Columbus, the Midwest’s fastest growing city in jobs and population, the nation’s fastest-growing city for startup activity and the #1 U.S city for scaling startups?

This multi-day happening draws more than 300 science and technical leaders from more than 40 states—governors, science/tech advisors, state and regional legislators, policymakers, and presidents of tech councils. This conference is a great way for us to collectively showcase our city, our startups, and especially our regional approach to innovation which we call the Backyard Effect.

The conference was organized in thematic tracks; The Central Ohio Story was a featured session in the Innovation Initiative track.

The widely attended session attracted an audience of some of the most experienced and forward-thinking public sector champions of entrepreneurship and public/private initiatives and partnerships. I moderated the panel, which included:

  • Cheryl Turnbull, Senior Director of Venture Capital, Director of Finance, The Ohio State University
  • Kenny McDonald, President & Chief Economic Officer, Columbus 2020
  • Colleen Gilger, Director of Economic Development, City of Dublin, Ohio

Together, we talked about all that Columbus has achieved in the last three or so years—when you think about it, that’s a very short time.

It isn’t an accident or some lucky dose of serendipity that we are investing in more startups and spinouts than ever before. It’s the direct result of an intentional commitment and plan, led by Columbus 2020, that connects the assets of this region to achieve entrepreneurial success.

As a region, we’ve progressed from carving up slices of a shrinking pie to working collaboratively together to grow the whole pie, and it’s working.

Columbus has the kind of momentum that people were seeing in Austin and Boulder a decade ago and look at those cities now. A brief sample of all that we have going for us:

  • In the past 5 years, 50 percent of the net new jobs in Ohio were created in the Columbus region.
  • Earlier this year we announced the $22MM Rev1 Fund, the largest seed-stage fund in Columbus history, corporate-backed and first of its kind.
  • OSU, Nationwide Children’s, and Ohio Health, through strategic partnerships, are great feeders of spinout technology and talent, OSU opportunities alone are up 30 percent.
  • OSU has dramatically increased funding dedicated to tech transfer.
  • Columbus has $140MM to upgrade our transportation system–$50MM from a DOT Smart Cities grant and another $90MM in locally raised matching funds.
  • Interconnection of economic development, corporate, and public sector initiatives – Columbus 2020, Ohio Third Frontier.

This has been one of those weeks that just makes me smile, thinking about Columbus and observing, through the eyes of SSTI folks from around the country, the astounding progress we are making in Central Ohio in terms of startups and innovation.

Imagine the possibilities.