Opinion: Groundwork laid that will see universities lead Ohio to technological future – The Columbus Dispatch

Historically, technological innovations were thought to happen only in large coastal cities like San Francisco, New York and Boston.
These regions, led by Silicon Valley, attracted vast amounts of talented innovators and venture capital dollars that took ideas and turned them into new businesses.
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The COVID-19 pandemic, however, is shifting this narrative as tech companies and workers leave Silicon Valley seeking communities investing in next-generation ideas.
Ranking sixth in the nation by total number of colleges, Ohio will find its opportunity in one of its greatest asset: our universities.
The role of universities and colleges in tech hubs is not new.
Silicon Valley’s premier status finds its roots in the pioneering work at Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley.
 As famously chronicled, “the Google story begins in 1995 at Stanford …,” and has grown into a $1.6 trillion company surpassing 100,000 employees. 
Many innovations destined to further bolster Ohio as a leading tech hub will find their genesis on the campuses of Ohio’s universities.
One such example is the Ohio Innovation Exchange, a collaborative venture among leading higher education, industry and state government partners in the state seeking to provide sought-after information and access to faculty talent, resources and research support services.
Supporting an ecosystem of innovation across the state, OIEx takes the form of a web portal and supporting network of university professionals working together to connect faculty experts, intellectual property/licensable patents, state-of-the-art university equipment and research support services with industries seeking expertise, collaborations and the next-generation workforce.  
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Sponsored by the Ohio Department of Higher Education, this first-of-its-kind initiative was launched in 2018 and has grown in functionality, searchable assets and partner schools, nearly doubling in the number of participating Ohio universities that now includes: Ohio University, Ohio State University, Case Western Reserve University, University of Cincinnati, Cleveland State University, University of Akron and University of Dayton.
Further downstream the knowledge creation-translation-application continuum where universities and industries thrive, we find OsteoDx, Inc., a medical technology startup that spun out of technology developed at Ohio University. 
With support from a $2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health, OsteoDx is developing breakthrough cortical bone mechanics technology that utilizes vibration analysis to accurately measure cortical bone stiffness of the human forearm bone.
The story of this noninvasive technology shows great promise in identifying patients at risk for fragility fractures due to osteoporosis, but also illustrates the translational power of public-private partnerships.
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These early crucial steps for OsteoDx were enabled with assistance from TechGROWTH Ohio, a $67 million public-private partnership between Ohio University, the Ohio Third Frontier program and the private investment community. A program within Ohio University’s Voinovich School of Leadership & Public Service, TechGROWTH is integral to an entrepreneurial ecosystem. 
TechGROWTH Ohio and the Innovation Center at Ohio University have supported hundreds of clients, which have created 370 new jobs and contributed nearly $400M in economic impact to the region and the state the past five years. 
Urban or rural, all parts of Ohio have a role to play in our innovation economy.
As the country continues to recover from the pandemic, Ohio’s innovation moment is now. 
We must continue to identify, incent and invest in efforts at the crossroads of universities, industry and economic development. 
Expanded and thriving partnerships between sectors create capacity across the state of Ohio’s ecosystem of knowledge innovation, translation and application in ways that expand workforce opportunities and foster economic prosperity.
Luckily, much of this groundwork has already been laid, and our state is well positioned to seize the moment. 
Chris Berry is the president of OhioX, a statewide technology and innovation partnership of Fortune 500 companies, startups, tech-focused businesses, universities and more working to make Ohio a leading tech hub. Joseph Shields is vice president for Research & Creative Activity, dean of the graduate college and professor of physics and astronomy at Ohio University.