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Government and Politics

Third Frontier invests $89 million in Ohio's high-tech future
This years awards include the largest in the program's history supporting University Hospital's drug discovery and neurotechnology in Columbus
This story is part of a special series.

Reporter / Host
Jeff St. Clair
Courtesy of Third Frontier
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For more than a decade Ohio’s Third Frontier program has spurred technological innovation in the Buckeye state. Last month the state run project awarded $89 million to dozens of start-ups, institutions, and entrepreneurs.  Those awards include two of the largest grants in the fund’s history.

In this week’s Exploradio, WKSU’s Jeff St.Clair talks with Third Frontier Commission chairman David Goodman.

Jeff St.Clair talks with Third Frontier's David Goodman

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Goodman became head of Ohio’s revamped Development Services Agency about a year and half ago. Part of his job is overseeing the Third Frontier Commission.  

He says the first frontier in Ohio was agricultural, the second was industrial, and the third frontier is technological.

Ohio voters in 2002 first approved spending $2.1 billion on new technology innovations. The commission has spent a little more than half that. The current $700 million allocation could run out by 2016.  Beyond that Goodman’s not sure what the next step for the Third Frontier program will be.

He says that as a conservative he generally opposes government picking winners and losers in the marketplace, but he believes the Third Frontier program is an essential part of Ohio’s economic competitiveness. Goodman says investing in locally grown start-ups helps keep the companies creating jobs here in the Buckeye state. He says funding through Third Frontier is determined by third party evaluators who make recommendations to the commission based on a rigorous selection process

One new initiative is the Third Frontier Commercialization Center Program to support infrastructure surrounding key industries.

The first awards came this year and are the largest in the fund’s history.  Ohio State University is receiving $21 million to build a center for the study of neurotechnology. The Neurotechnology Innovations Translator is a for-profit center for research in Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and other neurological disorders. University Hospitals in Cleveland is getting $25 million to support its innovation arm, the Harrington Discovery Institute, which is helping companies develop new drugs here in Ohio.

The Third Frontier program also supports small start-ups. The ONE Fund, or Ohio’s New Entrepreneurs Fund, traditionally funds individuals with promising ideas. This year the fund is awarding nearly $1 million to four innovation incubators, three of which are located in the Cleveland area – Bizdom’s U Fund, Flashstarts Inc., and Shaker LaunchHouse’s accelerator.

So far this year Third Frontier has awarded about $89 million to these and other venture capital groups, businesses, and institutions.

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