COLUMBUS, Ohio (CGE) – Ohio Gov. John Kasich took a tour Tuesday of the Ross Heart and Health Hospital at Ohio State University, where he was joined by OSU President E. Gordon Gee. The Governor and the President, who Ohio’s new Republican chief executive routinely refers to as the “Ohio’s greatest politician,” discussed joint efforts between their respective teams to promote the commercialization of university technologies.
Duo pushes for commercialization
Earlier in the day Gee announced that Brian A. Cummings, who helped build a top-tier technology commercialization program at the University of Utah, will lead the university’s new Office of Technology Commercialization, which a media release said will “coordinate all aspects of knowledge transfer and technology development. Cummings, the VP for technology commercialization, will focus his efforts on “building a pro-active and responsive culture to assist in the initial stages of idea formation, technology assessment, start-up creation, licensing, funding and ultimately a positive outcome for the university and the state of Ohio. The articulated strategy is to advance the economic and global impact of the university’s most promising technologies.
As content for Kasich’s tour, Gee introduced an OSU professor and a medical doctor who partnered with two others to invent a magnetic resonance imaging-compatible treadmill, one reporter attending the event wrote. The innovative device allows doctors to conduct MRI tests on patients while they’re walking on a treadmill. The brain trust behind the device said a spin-off company – EXCMR – has emerged and will soon test four of the devices in hospitals.
Gee, a published report noted, said Ohio State ranked “ninth in the nation in terms of production of ideas” but ranked “very low in terms of taking those ideas into the commercial area.”
Harvard ‘Competitiveness” study for Ohio full of dark clouds
How low OSU and Ohio in general are in patent performance was made crystal clear in a presentation to the National Governors Association, at its winter meeting in Washington, D.C, by Harvard Business School Professor Michael E. Porter.
Porter’s report, “State Competitiveness: Creating an Economic Strategy in a Time of Austerity,” had state profiles presented to each governor.
“Competitiveness is the only way to achieve sustainable job growth, improving wages, and stable public finances,” Porter reported, adding that “Creating a clear economic strategy for the state, that engages all stakeholders, is even more important in times of budget cutting and austerity.”
Innovation in products and processes, Porter said, is necessary to drive productivity growth. Strong clusters – kindred, related and overlapping industries – produces higher patenting rates, which in turn lead to greater opportunities for commercialization. Porter reports that Ohio’s leading clusters are automotive, metal manufacturing, plastics, production technology and publishing and printing.
In Porter’s statistical profile on long term state patenting performance, Ohio is adrift in the quadrant he calls “Low and declining innovation” that include states like Pennsylvania, Maryland, Indiana and others.
Porter offers a chart of Ohio patents by organization between 2005-2009. Ranked number one is Procter & Gamble with 814 patents. Ohio State is 22nd [with 52 patents] on the list with the Ohio State Research Foundation [with 29 patents] tied at number 49 with Parker-Hannifin Corporation.
Mark Kvamme, Gov. Kasich’s friend and now director of the Governor’s Office of Job Creation, told CGE that he was aware of the Harvard Business School report, but wasn’t forthcoming on whether Kasich had seen it or read it. Kasich was not present, as other governors were, for Porter’s presentation to the NGA meeting on February 26.
Having twice reported on the study here and here, Ohio is starting out in the back of the field of states in critical areas like productivity, innovation and cluster strength. It’s only bright spot is labor mobilization, where Porter thinks it will advance, compared to losing ground in these other areas. For Ohio, Porter’s forcast on prosperity shows the trend to retreat from the 4th quintile to the lowest quintile.
Kasich. Gee and Cummings clearly have their work cut out for them.
Click ‘Subscribe’ above to have the next CGE column delivered via email to you. Read more stories on people, politics and government in Ohio here, or on Facebook or Twitter. Send news or tips to [email protected]