OHIO Innovation Center receives $350K in federal grants to bolster biotechnology and life science startup companies

Published: April 6, 2021 Author: Staff reports

Ohio University’s internationally-renowned business incubator – the Innovation Center – has been awarded grants from both the Appalachian Regional Commission and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to expand business support provided to technology startups in the science industry sectors.

“Because of the need for solutions to the problems created by the current pandemic and other market factors, demand for lab space from biotechnology and life science companies is on the rise,” said Stacy Strauss, director of the Innovation Center.

The $250,000 award from the Appalachian Regional Commission, combined with a previously won U.S. Economic Development Administration award of $1.15 million, will add three additional biotechnology laboratories to the Innovation Center’s seven labs, as well as improve the building’s infrastructure.

In addition to supporting the retention of more than 300 jobs created by Innovation Center clients, the infrastructure improvements are expected to result in the creation of 10 new businesses and 100 new jobs within three years of project completion. According to the project’s feasibility study, it is expected that these new jobs will pay a higher-than-average wage for the region.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has also awarded $99,186 to the Innovation Center to provide business development and technical assistance to science and biotechnology sector clients.

“Newly launched and young ventures in these sectors require business coaching, advising, and regulatory/sector expertise to scale and achieve market success,” said Strauss. The Innovation Center provides business development guidance, advice on compliance with regulatory oversight, and insight on proper biotechnology equipment use and maintenance. Businesses in these sectors also are coached on the creation of laboratory protocols and procedures to ensure safety, product sterility/potency and adherence to standards, as well as staff training.

“We are incredibly grateful for the confidence and commitment demonstrated by the ARC and USDA with these awards,” Strauss said. “We remain focused on positive economic development outcomes and steadfast in our mission to work in support of the region’s entrepreneurs and small businesses.”

The Innovation Center is currently accepting new clients. Entrepreneurs and startups who have an idea for a new business are encouraged to reach out for assistance. More information can be found at www.innovateohio.com.

In 2019 alone, the Innovation Center supported 335 jobs that generated an estimated $22 million in employee compensation in Athens County and an estimated $11 million in economic output, according to its published economic impact report. Over the last six years, the business incubator’s job creation numbers have increased 139 percent, and employee compensation generated from its client companies is up 273 percent.

“The Innovation Center has done tremendous work helping businesses get their start, and we’re confident these new grants will allow that work to continue and expand,” Ohio University President M. Duane Nellis said. “This project is an integral part of OHIO’s commitment to supporting our Athens and regional economy.”

The Innovation Center is the recipient of the 2019 Randall M. Whaley Incubator of the Year Award (InBIA) and the 2019 Rural-Based Entrepreneurship Center of the Year Award (InBIA).