A groundbreaking portal takes research to the next level

Ohio’s new portal links industry and universities to spur innovation

The Ohio Department of Higher Education has launched a new online tool designed to connect university researchers with industry leaders (and with each other) in an effort to spur innovation throughout the state.

The Ohio Innovation Exchange is a searchable online database containing information about the faculty, projects, facilities, and equipment located at the state’s research institutions. Businesses, fellow researchers, and others can search the website by keyword, researcher, fields of research, featured patents, and other criteria to find potential collaborators for their work.

It’s all about connections
The project’s goal is to facilitate partnerships between researchers and industry professionals to advance innovation, says Charles See, vice chancellor for external relations and education technology at the Ohio Department of Higher Education.

Before the website launched, there was no formal mechanism in place to do this. The new portal makes it easy for researchers and industry leaders to learn about the many innovations going on in the state and find partners for their research.

“Faculty can also use this tool to interact with each other,” says See. Researchers can use the site to discover: “Who is working on similar research? Who has equipment I might need?”

To illustrate the kinds of collaborations the project aims to foster, the website includes profiles of successful public-private partnerships throughout Ohio. For instance, cardiovascular stents that open clogged arteries have saved millions of lives, but sometimes they cause blood clots that can reclog the artery. A biomaterials scientist with Boston Scientific teamed up with a professor of polymer science and chemistry at the University of Akron to create an ideal coating for medical stents that prevents clots from occurring.

Behind the scenes
To develop the Ohio Innovation Exchange portal, the Ohio Department of Higher Education contracted with a company called Digital Science. Digital Science offers an information research management program called Symplectic that helps researchers and institutions manage and showcase their research.

The department identified the types of information it wanted to collect and invited institutions to submit their information to Digital Science for inclusion in the portal. The $1.5 million project took about 17 months to complete.

As of press time, the portal contained information about more than 13,000 faculty members and research projects from Akron, Case Western Reserve, Cincinnati, Cleveland State, Ohio State, and Ohio universities. The project will continue to expand as other institutions are invited to participate.

The portal launched in October, and the response among faculty and institutions has been very positive so far, according to See. As he says, “We think this can be an economic driver that benefits both industry and higher education.”

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