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OHIO Innovation Center awarded Rural Business Development Grant from the USDA

Sep 18, 2018

ATHENS, Ohio (Sept. 18, 2018)—Ohio University’s Innovation Center announces a $99,000 Rural Business Development Grant (RBDG) grant award from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The funds will be used to purchase biotechnology equipment for use by small and emerging private businesses served by the business incubator.

“The state-of-the-art equipment will be used daily by our client startup companies, and its availability eliminates the need for young companies to bear the costs of such equipment purchases during their cash-strapped first few years,” said Stacy Strauss, director of the Innovation Center. “Without this grant, such equipment purchases would certainly be a barrier that delays or prevents a promising venture from launching in our region.”

The grant-funded equipment will be housed in the center’s two shared laboratories, which provide space and equipment for incubated biotechnology, Stirling engine and life science companies. The incubator currently is home to 17 companies in the areas of life sciences and biotechnology, software and other products.

“We are excited that the USDA’s Rural Business Development Grant will allow us to provide this equipment to our Innovation Center clients.  With high startup costs for biotechnology companies, having these central resources will be crucial for our clients’ pathways to success,” said David Koonce, interim vice president for research and creative activity and interim dean of the Graduate College at Ohio University.

The new USDA grant award continues the center’s 35-year history of attracting external funding to fulfill its mission of providing business services, resources and facilities that foster entrepreneurship, resulting in successful companies and a dynamic prosperous region. Incubated and recently graduated startups that have been supported by the center in Southeast Ohio are experiencing tremendous growth and are creating jobs with above-average wages, Strauss said. In 2017, the center supported 269 jobs that generated an estimated $9.9 million in employee compensation in Athens County, according to a recently published economic impact report.

The Innovation Center, part of Ohio University’s technology commercialization and entrepreneurial ecosystem, offers business coaching and space for startups at its facility at 340 W. State St., Athens. It also provides virtual business support and networking services to additional university and regional entrepreneurs.  The Innovation Center has supported entrepreneurs in Southeast Ohio since 1983 and has been recognized globally for excellence in its economic development efforts. It was named the 2016 Rural Incubator of the Year by the International Business Innovation Association, and a 2015 Top University Business Incubator in North America—#3 in the United States—by UBI Global.

Full information about the center is available at www.innovateohio.com.

Contacts: Stacy Strauss, 740-593-1803, strauss@ohio.edu; Andrea Gibson, 740-597-2166, gibsona@ohio.edu.