Jennifer Simon became the Executive Director of Regional Innovation in October of 2016 when awarded a $2 million Appalachian Regional Commission grant to build a regional innovation network in Ohio, West Virginia, and Kentucky. As leader of the Leveraging Innovation Gateways and Hubs Toward Sustainability (LIGHTS) program, Simon manages a network of faculty, staff, service providers, constituents, and executive mentors to bolster the success of entrepreneurs and start-up companies; makers; and individuals building workforce skills.
Before her role as Executive Director of Regional Innovation, Simon directed Ohio University’s Innovation Center, the first university-based business incubator in the state of Ohio and the 12th in the United States. The Center provides a professional and supportive environment where entrepreneurs can turn their dreams into realities.
During her time at the helm, Simon increased the number of clients at the Innovation Center from three to 25 companies within a few years. Successful companies graduated to larger, more permanent facilities with increased staffing. In that time, Simon also raised more than $2.3 million in grants, expanded services, and facility improvements, and led efforts to provide nearly $1 million in shared Biotechnology Research and Development equipment and the acquisition of the region’s first commercially available 3D Printing service.
“A big part of the wave of entrepreneurial development and being part of that network is working with the companies to continually find ways in which they need our assistance and ways we can get their product out on the market,” Simon said.
Before coming to Ohio University, Simon served as President of the Athens County Economic Development Council and CEO of the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce. She also served as the Assistant Director of the Governor's Office of Appalachia, where she managed over $60 million in grant funding.