Making Across the Curriculum and into the Community

How to support university-community entrepreneurship and innovation to business creation.

Daniel Harper
Ohio Unversity

Katy Mathuews
Ohio University

Background and objectives of the case
In 1983 Ohio University opened the Innovation Center, the first university-based business incubator in the state of Ohio. Providing a range of resources from business mentors to office space, the Innovation Center proved to be a model for success, nurturing a number of businesses from start-up to independence. In a backward design scenario, the Innovation Center provided support for business start-ups but Athens County, the poorest county in the state, had greater capacity. With a rich history of mining and manufacturing, Athens County and the southeastern region of Ohio lacked the kind of robust innovative thinking that sparked new business and rather had relied on a quickly outdating industrial economy. In an effort to spur on an entrepreneurial spirit and innovative thinking, Ohio University recognized the need to foster disparate entrepreneurs and innovators across the curriculum toward collaboration, both internal and external to the University, ultimately creating a university-industry collective. This collective began with three primary objectives:

Objective #1 – to support entrepreneurship on campus
Objective #2 – to bridge entrepreneurship happening on campus and in the surrounding region
Objective #3 – to leverage siloed resources and expertise on campus and in the surrounding region