Three towering double-jib cranes have dominated Ohio State University’s West Campus for the past year. The building signals sky-high expectations for the new health-focused research activity that will soon take up residence there.
Twenty-five years ago, this type of high-tech bioscience campus was not even a dream. By fall, however, construction was well underway for what you might call Silicon Valley East, but which Ohio State dubbed the Innovation District.
If you sort through the technical jargon and design blueprints, you’ll find labs and medical facilities that will use mind-boggling scientific advances that involve proton therapies that treat cancer, manufacturing gene therapies, and much more.
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For example, Andelyn Biosciences, a branch of Nationwide Children’s Hospital, will be located here. The company is the world leader in the production of viral vectors, which are tools used by scientists to introduce genetic material into cells for therapeutic purposes and to treat genetic disorders, explains Mayo Pujols, CEO of the organization. (Andelyn is named after the first two child patients who received the pioneering treatment, Andrew and Evelyn.)
“We discovered that you could replace the faulty gene with a copy and prevent or prevent a condition from getting worse and prolonging the lives of patients,” says Pujols. He says the new location is perfect for the company and will give the company the opportunity to expand its operations and interact with other researchers and scientists.
invention and discovery
“You’re going to bring together a household of brilliant people and that really appealed to us,” says Pujols. “The clustered environment will be mixed-use development, private industry, and multidisciplinary labs and enterprises in unique and innovative areas. This convinced us.
Innovation and interaction are key concepts throughout the Innovation District. OSU’s interdisciplinary research facility will have interactive labs designed to break down spatial barriers and promote a more informal and open sharing of ideas and research. It will include researchers in biomedical sciences, life sciences, engineering, environmental sciences and other disciplines.
The neighborhood, being built within the 270 acres of OSU’s West Campus, is designed to create a distinctive space to encourage academic and medical researchers, students, and business leaders to share ideas and data that can spark new solutions to solve all kinds of societal ills.
Among these evils, and perhaps the main one, is cancer. The Wexner Medical Center Outpatient Care West Campus building is focused on cancer treatment. In partnership with the Nationwide Children’s Hospital, the center will operate Ohio Center’s First Proton Therapy Treatmentan advanced form of cancer radiation therapy.
In addition to proton therapy at Wexner Medical Center, the building will include operating and radiology rooms, extended wake-up unit, pre-anesthesia center, diagnostic imaging center, pharmacy, dedicated hematology clinic and genital and urinary functions, and support spaces.
A financial commitment
The State of Ohio is expected to invest approximately $647 million initially for the project and infrastructure, which is in phase one. It will likely take 15 to 20 years for the district to reach its full potential, says Jay Kasey, Ohio State’s senior vice president of administration and planning.
“Calling these initial anchors to buildings is probably too meaningful a term,” Kasey says. “Eventually, there will be bigger companies that will come in and be real anchors. We want things to come together.
Discussions are underway for future phases of the district, which could include additional apartments, office buildings and research facilities. The idea is to foster more public-private partnerships for an environment where people can live, play and be inventive.
Grace Wang, Ohio State’s executive vice president for research, innovation, and knowledge, says the overarching vision is to create a district that becomes a technical hub and building block for an assortment of disciplines. .
“People will come to Ohio to interact with people from other industries and that will serve as a talent magnet for the state,” she says. “That’s the most important advantage. Talent is the number one issue in driving economic growth.
The Innovation District will also allow Ohio State to expand its own research efforts and develop any discoveries into more commercial business opportunities, Wang said.
“We can bring the technology to market,” she says. “When the best and brightest minds are intellectually engaged, great things happen. This is a time for OSU to look ahead to the next 30 years as we grow this part of our campus.
Jobs to proliferate
Government and corporate partners join OSU in creating the district, which is envisioned as a magnet to attract globally recognized educational, healthcare and technological research institutions. In turn, the emerging workforce and industries are expected to trigger an explosive need for talent to fill in-demand jobs and funnel billions into the Columbus and Ohio economy over the next 10 years.
The Innovation District offers a tremendous opportunity for cutting-edge companies to locate and stay in the area, says Matt Englehart, communications manager for JobsOhiowhich provided $100 million for the project.
“The neighborhood is going [draw] innovative, high-growth private sector companies that provide well-paying jobs,” says Englehart. “The district aims to create more than 20,000 new jobs, [training ground for] more than 22,000 STEM graduates and $3.75 billion in investments.
On the scope of healthcare, additional STEM projects will develop here. For example, the Energy Advancement and Innovation Center, dedicated to researching and developing the next generation of smart energy systems.
The Energy Advancement and Innovation Center will be a hub for engineering faculty, students, alumni and researchers, local entrepreneurs and industry experts to work on smart and renewable energy and green mobility solutions . The state of Ohio has a 50-year contract with ENGIE to manage the campus energy network. The international energy company generates and manages carbon-free energy around the world and has committed $50 million to the innovation center.
Expectations for the whole project are high.
“We will establish strategic partnerships in Columbus and attract companies from across the country to do research and development and workforce development while providing internship opportunities,” said OSU’s Wang.
JobsOhio’s Englehart says the development around the district will provide an attractive quality of life for young talent that will help create new generations of businesses.
“The intellectual property developed here will generate spin-off companies that we believe we can keep here in Ohio,” he said. “And the university will establish a STEM talent pool that will be attractive to cutting-edge companies looking to invest here for the first time.”
Similar innovation district projects are underway elsewhere in Ohio. In March 2020, the University of Cincinnati and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center announced a partnership. In January 2021, Cleveland Clinic, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland State University, MetroHealth Medical Center, and University Hospital also announced a partnership.
The first phase of the creation of the Ohio State University Innovation District includes the construction of four buildings dedicated to research and entrepreneurship in the fields of health, education and technology. Below is a summary of each.
Wexner Medical Center Ambulatory Care West Campus
Cut: 385,000 square feet with 640 parking spaces
Cost: $348.8 million
Construction: Early July 2020
Scheduled opening: Ambulatory care center and garage April 2023 / Proton therapy center October 2023
Interdisciplinary Research Center
Cut: 305,000 square feet
Cost: $227.8 million
Construction: Early September 2020
Scheduled opening: June 2023
Andelyn Bioscience Center
Cut: 185,000 square feet
Cost: $175 million
Construction: Early November 2020
Scheduled opening: Summer 2022
Energy Advancement and Innovation Center
Cut: 66,000 square feet
Cost: $48.4 million
Construction: To be determined
Scheduled opening: Fall 2023
This story is from the 2022 issue of Columbus Monthly Health.