Ohio University’s Innovation Center and Edison Biotechnology Institute have been awarded $500,000 for projects intended to stimulate economic development in Southeastern Ohio.

The money, awarded by the state’s Edison Technology Incubator Program, is a 20 percent increase from last year’s budget. It will be used to enhance support to biotechnology and high-technology start-up firms in the region, said Jennifer Simon, director of the Innovation Center, the university’s small business incubator.

In the past few years, the two OU programs have worked collaboratively to create a pipeline of entrepreneur services, including business plan development, coaching, creation of strategies to access or leverage funding, as well as access to equipment and facilities. These programs serve faculty inventors at the university and regional entrepreneurs.

The Edison Biotechnology Institute will use a portion of the new funds to enhance its business consulting services, including for clients of the Innovation Center.

“Through our assistance, our clients have been able to get $8 million in additional funding from new grants, investments, foundation awards and increases in sales,” David Wight, director of the Edison Biotechnology Institute, said in a news release from the university.

In addition, three companies have either received or are under consideration for a total of $1.2 million in equity investment, he said.

The university programs are working to match new medical device companies such as Sanuthera with regional manufacturers, Wight noted.

“In addition to the jobs in the bioscience companies, this could provide manufacturing jobs in the region,” he said.

The state money also will support a laboratory director and equipment for the new Biotechnology Research and Development Facility, which the Innovation Center opened this year to provide more resources to early-stage biotechnology companies at the university and throughout the region. The Edison Biotechnology Institute is assisting with locating clients for this and other laboratory spaces within the incubator, according to the news release.

In addition, the Innovation Center plans to use the new funding to support student start-ups emerging from Ohio University’s GRID Lab, which provides opportunities to develop technical and creative skills through the use of interactive digital game technology, Simon said.

The goal of the various initiatives is to create new bioscience and high-technology jobs in the region. A recent study found that the average annual salary of Innovation Center clients is $53,000, which is significantly higher than the regional median household income of $30,000.

“We’re trying to retain these companies in the community so they can, in turn, employ accountants, administrative assistants, manufacturing workers and other non-technology professionals who can contribute to the companies’ successes,” Simon said.

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