New study highlights strategies to enhance Ohio Innovation Exchange

Concept: laptop with typing arms and "galaxy brain" overlaid with an outline of the state of Ohio as the brain

A new study, commissioned by the Ohio Department of Higher Education and conducted by Upjohn Regional, evaluates the Ohio Innovation Exchange (OIEx), a statewide initiative aimed at improving industry access to expertise, research services, and technology resources from a growing coalition of Ohio universities. After examining similar efforts across the United States, the report provides specific recommendations for achieving operational excellence and building broader awareness of this resource-sharing strategy and online knowledge management portal.

The report notes that OIEx stands out as one of the pioneering multi-university technology exchange initiatives in the United States.

In the report, Upjohn researchers identify opportunities to enhance the impact and sustainability of OIEx, with policy recommendations emphasizing the need for OIEx to transition toward a role as a knowledge broker bridging the gaps between the needs of industry and the supply of university resources. The report details recommendations for refining the marketing, communications, and business strategies of OIEx to achieve the next level of operational excellence.

Specific Recommendations

Marketing and Promotion: OIEx currently functions as a university product provider, offering a valuable resource that remains relatively unknown to most business and industry leaders. The program has a unique opportunity to proactively strengthen and grow new connections between the needs of businesses and the faculty and facilities of Ohio universities. To achieve this, OIEx should consider investing in additional marketing and promotional efforts, including actively promoting each business/university partnership it brokers on social media and through targeted marketing strategies.

Workforce Development: There is an opening for OIEx to increase workforce development opportunities by including internships, co-ops, and graduate placements in its research and innovation processes and projects.

Staffing: Based: on reviewing the staffing of existing similar (often much smaller) initiatives, the report recommends adding staff to grow capabilities around core information technologies and communications/marketing.

Funding: While the current funding mechanisms are stable, securing diversified funding streams — including both the Ohio Department of Higher Education and the broader economic development sector — is imperative to optimally position OIEx for continued growth of its feature sets, discovery technologies, and broader awareness.

The Ohio Innovation Exchange is an initiative of the Ohio Department of Higher Education, a cabinet-level agency of the Governor of Ohio that oversees higher education policy. Developed in collaboration with Ohio universities and supported by the Ohio Manufacturing Institute, OIEx is a cross-sector initiative focused on improving resource and knowledge sharing between industries and universities to accelerate their contributions to the state’s innovation economy.

Upjohn Regional provides applied economic research and technical assistance. It addresses issues in regional economies, economic development, workforce/occupational development, evaluation, public policy development, and economic impact modeling and analysis. It is a unit of the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.

Date: June 10, 2024