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Otterbein Names Executive Director of New Innovation Center

May 27, 2016
Otterbein University

Westerville, OH—Otterbein University has hired Erin Bender to serve as the executive director of the university’s new Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) Innovation Center. Bender comes to Otterbein from The Ohio State University, where she serves as director of licensing, physical science, for the Office of Technology Commercialization. She will start her new position at Otterbein on July 1.

“Erin’s strong background in negotiations involving universities, private enterprise and public agencies will benefit the STEAM Innovation Center as it develops partnerships within the community and local industry,” said Otterbein President Kathy Krendl. “Additionally, as an entrepreneur herself, she has unique insight into both higher education and small businesses that will benefit the mission of the center.”

As the founding executive director of the STEAM Innovation Center, Bender will be responsible for developing and maintaining local, state, and national relationships with educators, service providers, business partners, entrepreneurs and funders to support the success of the center and benefit students. The center will bring together educators, business, industry and regional economic planning and development partners all in one location to create a unique resource for students, entrepreneurs and the Westerville community.

“I’m excited to be a part of a university that thrives in uncharted environments,” Bender said. “Integrating the arts into STEM provides companies with an opportunity to have creatively minded students in their interdisciplinary project teams. I’ve seen first-hand how incorporating the arts into technology development can enable amazing outcomes. I hope to create a space where students and our partners feel comfortable sharing ideas.”

A feasibility study commissioned from Boyette Strategic Advisors 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. Both the Westerville City Council and the State of Ohio are partnering with Otterbein on the development of the center.

Bender was hired by OSU in 2006 and has held various positions within the Office of Technology Commercialization. The office facilitates the transfer of university research to licensees for development of new products and services that benefit the public good, foster economic growth and generate revenue to support OSU’s academic mission. Her past roles with the office include associate director, senior licensing officer and licensing associate.

That same year, her family established C.A.B.B. Farms, LLC, a 65-acre family farm in Lexington, Ohio, that specializes in natural grass-fed and finished Angus cattle and hay production.

Prior to joining OSU, Bender was an associate at Kremblas, Foster, Phillips & Pollick, a boutique intellectual property law firm that serves small enterprises, large corporations, individual inventors, universities and research institutions. She also worked as a legal assistant at the Chemical Abstracts Service, a division of the American Chemical Society. 

Bender holds a juris doctorate degree from from Capital University Law School and a bachelor’s degree in environmental science from Wright State University.

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