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Third Frontier program up for a May vote

Board of Trustees resolves to support the bond initiative
Apr 19, 2010
From staff reports

Ohio's Third Frontier program is up for renewal, and early voting is under way for the May 4 election. If passed, the job-creating program would be renewed through 2016.

Issue 1 would authorize the state of Ohio to issue up to $700 million in bonds that Third Frontier partners would then use for research, product innovation and commercialization in support of Ohio businesses in such areas as advanced materials, agbiosciences, alternative energy and fuel development, among many others.

Ohio University and southeast Ohio have directly benefited from Third Frontier funding, as 17 start-up companies have been served.

"A very important part of Ohio University's mission is to lift up the southeast Ohio region through the transfer of the talents and creativity of our researchers and scholars into innovations in industry that result in job creation," said Ohio University President Roderick J. McDavis. "Ohio?s Third Frontier program provides critical support for our efforts in this area."

At the university, the Entrepreneurial Signature Program (ESP) through the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs, ?TechGROWTH Ohio*? is using much of the Third Frontier effects.
Through its participation in Third Frontier, TechGROWTH has had contact with more than 1,900 companies, and 277 have qualified under the ESP grant for assistance. It has generated more than $26.7 million in resources from the Third Frontier's initial investment of $4.025 million.

There are currently 160 active "client companies" working with TechGROWTH as well as seven colleges and universities. The list includes nearby Hocking College and several other universities across the state.

Director of TechGROWTH Lynn Gellermann sees Third Frontier as a tool to help faculty, staff, and southeast Ohio. "TechGROWTH provides game changing advisory services; grant support and investment capital to entrepreneurs and start-up companies throughout southeast Ohio, including faculty and researchers at Ohio University and other institutions in the region," he said.  "It's a big deal in terms of bridging the gap that lies between ideas and laboratories to the marketplace."

Their partnership with the Ohio University Innovation Center has helped net the center at least three new client companies. In addition, Third Frontier ESP has seen more than $3 million in SBIR/STTR obtained and more than $2 million in federal appropriation dollars given to Ohio University researchers.

Jennifer Simon, director of the Innovation Center, has seen firsthand the impact of the program.

"The Innovation Center and its clients have benefited greatly from Third Frontier funding," she said. "The Third Frontier program is a large tool in our entrepreneurship toolbox. Without the Third Frontier program, progress would be slow in taking companies from idea to reality."

Researchers impacted by the Third Frontier can be found across campus. Greg Kremer, chair and associate professor of mechanical engineering, received $33,000 in 2009 for research. Likewise, his frequent research partner, Gerardine Botte, associate professor of chemical and bimolecular engineering, received $972,992 in Third Frontier funding to further her research in clean fuels and wastewater remediation.

Since its inception in 2002, the Third Frontier program has invested $681 million to lay the foundation for the retention, creation and growth of technology-based jobs and businesses and has attracted more than $3.2 billion in additional investments from public and private sources.

And those investments have paid off, spurring 571 new companies and allowing many existing companies to expand. They have produced more than 48,000 jobs and yielded $6.6 billion in economic activity around Ohio.

?When the state, universities and industry come together, each bringing unique contributions to the table, an exciting synergy results that yields benefits for thousands of Ohioans,? said McDavis. ?These positive effects touch students, faculty, entrepreneurs, local residents and whole communities. The vision for this program has begun to be realized and we look forward to the exciting results it will yield in the future.?

With strong bipartisan support, the Ohio General Assembly overwhelmingly approved the ballot initiative, known as State Issue 1, to renew the Third Frontier program. And since that time, it has been enthusiastically endorsed throughout the state.

Ohio University's Board of Trustees passed a resolution at its April meeting that expressed the board?s support of Issue 1 in light of Ohio University's status as a scientific and technological leader in the state and the program's multitude of positive effects.

?Now therefore be it resolved that the said investment will improve the quality of life for all Ohioans," the Board of Trustees said in its resolution.

The advances in research that the Third Frontier has funded have raised both the profile of the university and more financial support for research activities.

Rathindra N. Bose, the vice president for research and dean of the Graduate College agreed with the Board of Trustees' resolution.

"The Third Frontier program has been important for funding research and economic development initiatives that are central to Ohio University's mission of moving innovations from the faculty laboratory to the marketplace and stimulating economic growth in southeastern Ohio," he said. "We are grateful for the state support of this program and feel that the effort has truly paid off for our region."


* Following this link takes you away from the Ohio University Web site.


Published: Apr 19, 2010 7:24 AM

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