Collaboration in the Columbus Innovation District

How Carmenton plans to upend interdisciplinary research and innovation at Ohio State

By Justin Wagg / December 13, 2022

Aerial view of Columbus' Innovation District

Expansive wins yield major hopes of future innovations. At least that’s what’s true of The Ohio State University’s Carmenton district in Columbus.

Over the past decade, the Columbus Region has been awarded the Department of Transportation’s Smart City Challenge, gained record-setting levels of venture capital for startups leading to four unicorn investments, and fleshed out its leadership as a world-class biotech and gene therapy hub.

In early 2022 Intel also announced it would be moving its semiconductor chip factory to Licking County, just under a 30-minute drive from downtown Columbus. The Region proves itself time and time again as an open and collaborative business environment with a strong economy and skilled and intelligent talent.

Now Ohio State has its sights set on creating an innovation district — one built on community that facilitates collaboration among researchers and innovators. The planned 270-acre plus development is dubbed Carmenton for the university’s alma mater song, “Carmen Ohio,” which can be translated as “song of Ohio.”

Like the school’s alma mater, Carmenton will emphasize bringing Buckeyes from around the world for collaborative research and innovation. Connections at the Ohio State innovation district will allow researchers to collaboratively work toward solutions to some of the world’s most complex challenges, including cancer treatment research, addiction treatment, sustainability and more.

Convergence of Innovation and Collaboration

The Ohio State University understands the importance of creating new opportunities for collaboration among researchers and entrepreneurs to further position central Ohio as a leader in innovation. Carmenton is part of university leadership’s strategy to double research expenditures by 2030.

One of Carmenton’s first new buildings — a five-story, 305,000-square-foot laboratory called the Interdisciplinary Research Facility (IRF) — opened in June 2023. The IRF will include 18 research areas including gene therapy, Alzheimer’s disease, artificial intelligence, neuro engineering and immuno-oncology.

Opening Doors to New Opportunities

Collaboration will not only take a high value at the IRF, but throughout the entire Carmenton innovation district in Columbus. Traditionally, advancements in the life sciences and biomedical industry have been hampered due to physical separation from related fields of study. Since the IRF offers the proximity of so many disciplines converging in common spaces at Carmenton — including engineering, physics, public health care, social work, and AI — students and researchers will have a much more integrated and comprehensive approach toward innovation.

One such example is the colocation of the Energy Advancement and Innovation Center next to the IRF. The center will serve as a hub for artificial intelligence research and smart and sustainable systems, with the two top floors being dedicated for business.

The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center Outpatient Care – West Campus offers comprehensive cancer care, from diagnosis to treatment through survivorship, and expands patients’ access to clinical trials. The medical center also includes central Ohio’s first proton therapy treatment facility, which opened in October 2023.

Carmenton will also capitalize on other recent investments, including those at Waterman Agricultural and Natural Resources Laboratory and the new Controlled Environment Agriculture Research Complex (CEARC). The CEARC and Ohio State’s agricultural researchers were integral in Ohio State’s recent award to host the terrestrial analog of the George Washington Carver Science Park, established by Voyager and its operating company Nanoracks.

A temporary facility for this research and development opened in March of 2023.The facility will offer new opportunities for K-12 students in Columbus’ STEAMM Rising Initiative to learn more about space research.

An Attractive Community for Talent

While research at Carmenton will certainly fuel economic development in the Region, Ohio State’s status as a land grant university makes it just as focused on positively impacting the lives of students and the community. The Columbus innovation district has adopted a live-play-innovate model to provide direction for a multiuse community with dining, residential and entertainment options.

Once fully operational, Carmenton will be a place for both early-stage and established businesses in the Columbus Region to develop talent, leading to quicker commercialization of technologies and the potential for spinouts. Between interdisciplinary research and knowledge sharing, Carmenton is creating a place of symbiotic relationships for researchers, businesses and the community.

Looking to learn more about innovation in the Region? Contact us to cue into the opportunities available throughout the Region for faster business growth.

Updated Monday, October 16, 2023.

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