Sunday, May 23, 2010

Battelle CEO Jeff Wadsworth said the growing collaboration between Ohio State and Battelle stands at the cusp of a great leap forward

Battelle chief lauds innovation partnerships with Ohio State : onCampus

Central Ohio has many of the ingredients necessary to become an even more significant part of the national innovation system — along the lines of Silicon Valley, North Carolina’s Research Triangle or the Route 128 circle around Boston, according to Battelle CEO Jeff Wadsworth.

Wadsworth, delivering the James F. Patterson Land-Grant University Lecture at the Nationwide and Ohio Farm Bureau 4H Center April 30, told attendees that land-grant universities must play a crucial role in both creating and sustaining the partnerships that will lead to prosperity.

After noting the similarities among the “innovation clusters,” such as the presence of a great university, significant research institutions, a highly-educated work force, the availability of venture capital and an entrepreneurial culture, he went on to say those noteworthy research clusters “are looking over their shoulders at us here, and they should.”

Considering central Ohio has all the above qualities as well as the nation’s best zoo, best science center (COSI), Chemical Abstracts Service and a host of top-tier businesses, he said, this region is poised to play a much stronger role in national innovation and serve as an even stronger economic engine for the entire Midwest.

Behind it all, though, he said “there are great expectations that it begins with us: All of you and your wonderful institution and those of us at Battelle.

“Like The Ohio State University, our mission can be boiled down to, quite simply, the betterment of mankind,” Wadsworth said. “Our ability to successfully resolve challenges including energy, health care, national security and education depends on innovation and on the strength and productivity of our economy.”

Wadsworth described the history of collaboration between OSU and Battelle, which didn’t really ignite until the beginning of this decade, when “an atmosphere of ‘not invented here’ yielded to ‘proudly found across King Avenue’ — in both directions.” The collaborative spark, he said, has led to nearly $80 million in projects that have involved both institutions in the past 10 years.

“We have changed the nature of our relationship from a transactional one, where individual researchers work together episodically on specific programs, to one of ‘engaged’ institutional partners,” he said. “Now our work together includes genuine collaborations in research, education, economic development and civic improvement.”

The interaction, he said, has been particularly effective in achieving results in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education and economic development.

The effort behind STEM education, he said, is at least partly self-serving for both Ohio State and Battelle; with nearly 40 percent of the current workforce eligible to retire in the next decade, it behooves both institutions to train and nurture their replacements.

He said the collaborative efforts with Metro Early College High School and the Battelle Center for Math and Science Education Policy at the John Glenn School of Public Affairs both have shown early success.

He said the partners also have set a “strong foundation on the economic development front,” citing work developing the Route 315 Research and Technology Corridor and the founding of TechColumbus as well as the joint Ohio Bioproducts Innovation Center that already has led to a multitude of new products that benefit the Ohio economy.


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