OU Programs Working To Create Jobs

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The State of Ohio is looking to two Ohio University programs to create jobs in Southeast Ohio and is putting an extra half-million dollars behind the effort.

The money goes to Ohio University's Edison Biotechnology Institute, where David Wight is the director, and to the Innovation Center, where Jennifer Simon is the director.

"The state of Ohio has recognized that we have the capabilities to be on par with incubators in urban areas such as Cleveland and Columbus," Simon said.

The $500,000 is from the state's Edison Technology Incubator Program, which has allocated funds for the Institute and Center in the past.

This is a 20 percent increase from last year.

The services offered by the Innovation Center and Biotechnology Institute are made available to inventors at Ohio University and to regional entrepreneurs.

There's more good news out of the OU collaboration.

Three companies have either received or are under consideration for a total of $1.2 million in equity investment.

Of the three companies, Sanuthera is the only one Wight will name right now.

It's developing a medical device for hearing loss and tinnitus, a product that could be made right here in Southeast Ohio if Wight is successful with another project he's working on.

Wight is optimistic local manufacturers can transition into these other product lines.   

"In addition to the jobs in the bioscience companies, this could provide manufacturing jobs in the region," he said.   

The goal of the various initiatives is to create new bioscience and high-technology jobs in the region.     

"We're trying to retain these companies in the community so they can, in turn, employ accountants, administrative assistants, manufacturing workers and other non-technology professionals who can contribute to the companies' successes," Simon said.

A recent study found that the average annual salary of Innovation Center clients is $53,000, which is significantly higher than the regional median household income of $30,000.