Otterbein University announced it is partnering with leading organizations from the private and public sectors in central Ohio to create a new science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) Innovation Center.
The center will bring together educators, business, industry and regional economic planning and development partners all in one location, creating a unique resource for students, entrepreneurs and the Westerville community.
According to a feasibility study commissioned from Boyette Strategic Advisors, the project would be one-of-a-kind in the entire country, and follows a series of strategic objectives recently set forth by the Westerville Economic Development Plan.
The study conservatively estimates the direct impact of the project will result in the creation of 200 jobs in five years totaling $16 million in payroll. The state and local tax impact over five years is projected at $3.6 million.
“The STEAM Innovation Center is a first-of-its-kind concept that offers the opportunity for dynamic integration of academic curriculum with the business community, while also serving as a catalyst for an entrepreneurial ecosystem in Westerville,” said Otterbein President Kathy Krendl. “This new center positions Otterbein as a leader among universities with strong liberal arts and sciences traditions.”
Otterbein officials and partners announced the new center at an event on Friday, Feb. 19, in the university’s Science Center.
Located at 60 Collegeview Road in Westerville, the STEAM Innovation Center will be home to two resident companies and Otterbein academic departments, with lab space available to businesses and the broader community. The center’s first resident companies will be PolymerOhio and Ikove Capital Partners.
“The STEAM Innovation Center will provide an environment of innovation to support both entrepreneurs and existing businesses in central Ohio, as well as being open to innovators in the broader community to explore their ideas,” Krendl said. “We’ll see an increase in development of products and services, internships and jobs.”
Gary Maul, director of Otterbein’s systems engineering program, said the STEAM Innovation Center is unique in that it is a center not just for ideas, but also for action.
“There are a lot of innovation centers where intellectual property is developed. Ideas will be generated here as well, but the purpose of our center is to convert ideas to commercialized products and services.”
Maul said a gap exists between idea generation and product or process realization — a gap that Otterbein’s new center will fill while providing new opportunities for economic development to Westerville.
Otterbein’s STEAM Innovation Center will offer space and services to support start-up businesses with potential to become high-growth companies, as well as lab space and services to support research and development and prototyping for small- to medium-sized manufacturers. Additionally, there will be space for community members who are interested in innovation and creation.
The new center will benefit students through its interdisciplinary approach and collaboration opportunities with working professionals on campus.
“Problems do not exist within a single discipline. Having a wide variety of skill sets in one place and being able to get different perspectives from students, faculty and professionals will make our students better problem-solvers,” Maul said.
Students will also work alongside resident professionals and complete on-site internships with resident companies.
Additional partners, associates and vendors include: City of Westerville, Columbus State Community College, Ikove, PolymerOhio, Westerville City Schools, Design Central, edgeThingZ, Honda North America, Lake Shore Cryotronics, Mettler Toledo, Nano Tech, Nestle PTC, Rimrock Robotics, Worthington Industries, Xigent, Blair IT, Buckeye Education, Cisco, Dell, Corna Kokosing, Logicalis, Moody Nolan, Radiant.
The renovation of the building began in early January and will be completed in a tiered approach. Businesses will move in next summer and Otterbein’s engineering program will start the 2016 school year in the Center.
Learn more about the Otterbein University STEAM Innovation Center
Official STEAM Innovation Center website
Watch the STEAM Press Conference on YouTube
See photos from the event
Join the social media conversation with #OtterbeinSTEAM