Written by Jerred Ziegler.
Innovative technology is being developed every day at Ohio’s universities and research institutes. When researchers and the business community work together, this technology can be commercialized and turned into successful startups that create jobs in the state. Startup Snapshot at The Ohio State University is an opportunity to make these connections.
On May 20, 2015 Ohio State’s Technology Commercialization Office (TCO), in conjunction with the Ohio State University Office of Alumni Affairs, held its fifth Startup Snapshot. This bi-annual event connects promising technology developed at Ohio State with potential investors and entrepreneurs. Each technology is introduced in a three minute pitch, followed by time for networking and one-on-one time with the technology’s inventors.
“We are very excited to host this event in conjunction with the Office of Alumni Affairs,” said Melanie Baker, director of marketing and communications at the TCO. “When we held the first Startup Snapshot, it was much smaller in size. Since then, it has grown so much and we’ve been able to see technologies showcased at past Snapshots really take off into startup companies gaining traction.”
Both pre-license and post-license technologies are featured at Startup Snapshot. The pre-license presentations focus on inventions created at the university that have not yet been commercialized. These presenters are looking for members of the business community who can either take a technology and create a company around it or buy the technology and integrate it into an existing company. Post-license presentations are focused on attracting investors. These startups have commercialized university technology and are looking for capital to continue their growth.
Many startup companies have gained traction as a result of participating in past Snapshots, including Sight4All, an app that allows smartphones to perform digital eye exams. Sight4All CEO Steve Wallace was first introduced to his company’s technology while attending a Startup Snapshot in 2013. Looking for a technology to commercialize, he listened to a presentation by Melissa Bailey, the inventor of Sight4All. He was so impressed with the innovative eye exam tool he decided to form a startup company around it.
“The Startup Snapshot event allows people to present their ideas in concise and easy-to-understand ways,” said Wallace. “It’s much more difficult to reach that level of exposure on your own.”
Todd Whittington, CEO of Rekovo, attended this Startup Snapshot to make valuable networking connections. His company combines therapy, art and data to improve rehabilitation for people suffering from traumatic brain injury and balance or falling issues. Similar to Sight4All, Whittington formed Rekovo around an innovative technology he discovered at a past Startup Snapshot.
“We’re ready to start selling our product and looking for health systems that may be interested in using our technology,” said Whittington.
The audience at Startup Snapshot included local and regional venture capitalists, Ohio State faculty members and administrators, members of the central Ohio startup community and local elected officials. More than 150 people attended the event, including representatives from Ohio Third Frontier regional partners JumpStart in Cleveland, CincyTech in Cincinnati and Rev1 Ventures in Columbus.
Ohio State’s Technology Commercialization Office works closely with Ohio Third Frontier, especially the Technology Validation and Startup Fund (TVSF) program and Rev1 Ventures. According to Baker, Ohio State technologies and startup companies have received approximately 25% of all TVSF funding since the program began, totaling about $2 million. Rev1 and the TCO have a formal partnership that includes special funding opportunities specifically targeting Ohio State startup companies. Many Startup Snapshot companies have taken part in Rev1’s Concept Academy and are currently working in the program’s incubator space, creating jobs in the Columbus area.
“The entrepreneurial scene here in Columbus has a lot of energy and momentum,” said Baker. “The city is making a name for itself; we are thrilled to be in the startup space at this exciting time.”