COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The U.S. Department of Commerce presented a $744,091 check to Ohio State University Friday in support of BioHio, an effort of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences to move ideas from the lab to the marketplace.

The new initiative reflects the university's land-grant heritage to ensure the application of new discoveries, said Bobby D. Moser, dean and vice president for agricultural administration.

"For years we have ensured that our research discoveries get into the hands of the user to enhance economic well-being and create jobs to benefit the people of Ohio," Moser said. "Now we're taking that to the next step."

The Economic Development Administration grant, presented by the Commerce Department's General Counsel John Sullivan, will be used to renovate Pounden Hall on the Wooster campus of the university's Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC).

The building will become the Pounden Technology Development Center -- the launch of the college's BioHio Research Park.

"Successful economic development is driven by leaders like those at Ohio State and at the local level," Sullivan said. "Investing today in The Ohio State University will help stimulate the entire region's economy."

The research park will provide space for private companies developing commercial products and services resulting from university research, as well as for university work specifically oriented to commercial application, said Jim Currie, program director for ATECH. ATECH is the college's Food and Agricultural Technology Commercialization and Economic Development Program, geared to foster economic development from university research and programs that focus on food, agricultural, environmental, and life science technologies.

"Some occupants will be start-up companies who see the benefit of being in close proximity to OARDC's resources, some will be satellite offices of existing companies working with university researchers, and some will be university-based workers connecting research to the market," Currie said.

The park is expected to attract companies working in areas in which the college has special expertise, Currie said, including plant and animal disease detection and prevention; biomass conversion for energy, specialty chemicals, lubricants and polymers; and food production, safety and packaging.

For example, Ganeden Biotech, Inc., based in Mayfield Heights, Ohio, has already expressed interest in setting up an office at the research park. The company currently has a research partnership with OARDC on several projects, including development of a children's product to ease lactose intolerance. Ganeden will occupy existing space at OARDC for now and expects to be among the first tenants when Pounden is completed, planned for spring 2008.

According to the latest government rankings, Ohio State is ninth in research expenditures among public universities, "and we are moving up steadily in that ranking every year," said Jean Schelhorn, the university's associate vice president for Technology Licensing and Commercialization. In addition, the university is sixth in industry funding among all U.S. research universities.

"This statistic is very significant," Schelhorn said. "Our ranking of sixth in industrial funding means we are valued by commercially focused industrial partners. These stats tell me we know how to collaborate with and deliver for industrial partners. We plan to build on that strength in coming years."

The BioHio Research Park is an important addition to Ohio State's commercialization efforts, said Karen Holbrook, university president. In Columbus, the Science and Technology Village, SciTech, houses 43 companies and has received more than $16 million in venture capital. Ohio State currently earns $589 million in externally funded research, she said.

U.S. Rep. Deborah Pryce (R-Upper Arlington), credited Holbrook, president of Ohio State since 2002, with bringing research at Ohio State to the "elite echelons of the world."

A study released in early August revealed that Ohio's top three research universities (Ohio State, Case Western Reserve University, and the University of Cincinnati) have a $6.2 billion impact on the state of Ohio, she said. According to the U.S. News & World Report 2007 edition of America's Best Colleges, The Ohio State University has been named 19th among the nation's top 50 public universities.

Pounden Hall is one of a cluster of buildings on the northern edge of the Wooster campus that will eventually become "Innovation Village," or the first stage of the BioHio Research Park, Currie said. In the future, the research park is expected to expand north to a 94-acre site across Secrest Road.

SOURCE: Ohio State news release.