Amanda Pierce / Lantern photographer
Ohio State announced its partnership with Ohio University and its commitment of $20 million Thursday to create a venture capital fund to support developing technology innovations in Ohio.
Together with OSU’s contribution, Ohio University has committed $15 million to the fund.
OSU President E. Gordon Gee said the partnership isn’t about OSU or OU individually, but rather it is about the state of Ohio as a whole.
“We’re about 11 million Ohioans, we’re about creating an opportunity for our students to be able to stay here,” Gee said. “We’re about building a fence around Ohio and keeping our most talented people here.”
Gee said the fund will make sure there is not a “death valley” for young entrepreneurs who lack critical support in early years.
“We intend on making Ohio the center of innovation and creativity in this country,” Gee said. “It starts with its people.”
Ohio University President Roderick McDavis said the establishment of this fund is the next step for OU and OSU, and is in line with their collective goals and ambitions.
This partnership has great potential to bridge the work of Ohio higher education institutions with industry and state government, McDavis said.
McDavis said he hopes the fund will create jobs, keep talented people in Ohio and draw talented people to the state.
Mark Kvamme, president of JobsOhio, said the support the fund will give to emerging entrepreneurs and innovators is especially important in Ohio, a state with a strong history of entrepreneurship.
“What I see happening across the state of Ohio is amazing innovation and great entrepreneurs,” Kvamme said. “We need to create environments like this that allows them to flourish.”
Kvamme said he strongly believes Ohio is the next place for innovation.
“We need to create environments that allow our folks to thrive,” Kvamme said. “On our universities, this is where it all happens.”
The marriage of OSU’s success in research and development and OU’s success in technology commercialization and rural economic development will form a strong partnership capable of providing early stage capital to innovative companies, McDavis said.
“(As universities, we) must do our part to support our state … and serve as economic engines and job creators for our region,” McDavis said.
Steve Golding, chief financial officer at OU, said the partnership and fund will incentivize students to try to be creative and learn how to build businesses out of their intellectual property.
“I think this is but another piece for the broader puzzle of the systems and programs that need to be put in place around university campuses to support those activities,” Golding said.