A new fund has been created to help Ohio State University turn technologies into commercial applications that in turn will spur economic growth and create jobs in the state. OSU and the Ohio Third Frontier program have pooled $1 million to create the Technology Concept Fund, which is being managed by TechColumbus.
A new fund has been created to help Ohio State University turn technologies into commercial applications that in turn will spur economic growth and create jobs in the state.
OSU and the Ohio Third Frontier program have pooled $1 million to create the Technology Concept Fund, which is being managed by TechColumbus.
"We're confident that by working together to monetize these technologies, we can do some good," said Timothy Wright, who is temporarily heading up Ohio State's Technology Commercialization Office.
Technology-business incubator TechColumbus was asked to manage the fund because "it makes sense from a work-flow perspective," said Wayne Embree, executive vice president of investments and venture acceleration at TechColumbus.
"TechColumbus works with raw startups. We're really in development, not research," Embree said. "We focus on customers and market opportunities, and not new knowledge. Our charter is building great companies - and we've got a great relationship with OSU and the Technology Commercialization Office. So it's a pretty seamless mechanism."
The fund will provide cash to companies in their earliest stages and is specifically for investors and entrepreneurs who have formed companies around technologies licensed from Ohio State, said Tom Walker, CEO of TechColumbus.
The fund will be "evergreen," meaning that successful companies will plow cash back into the fund, Walker said.
"We pick the things we think have high potential," Wright said, "and then it goes over to TechColumbus, and TechColumbus takes it and homes in on the market opportunities for this technology, helps flesh out a strategy, and puts some money into it to get to some key milestones."
The technologies on which the fund will focus include: advanced materials, alternative energy, information technology and life sciences.
Two deals are close to completion.
"One of them is in life sciences," Embree said. "They've developed a method for early and rapid detection of pathogens (disease-causing agents) in the field. They can take that kind of lab analytical capability and make it mobile.
"The other one is in the automotive space - natural-gas refueling," Embree said.
About a half-dozen companies have passed the initial screening; some are very early in the vetting process and others are further along, Embree said.
"In every case, what we're looking for is: Does this company produce something that makes sense?" Embree said. "We're really trying to build the continuum, create a model here, where companies don't get hung up going from one business stage to the next."
For years, Ohio State has ranked at the bottom of U.S. colleges and universities for licensing revenue.
Last year, for example, Ohio State was last among Big Ten schools in generating income from its research, despite increased efforts to turn more university discoveries into marketable products and ideas.
In fiscal 2012, Ohio State spent $934 million on research, but the university came in last place in licensing income with $2.2 million, according to an annual listing by the Association of Technology Managers.
That contrasts with Ohio University, which spent 28 times less than Ohio State on research but earned $9.4 million.