Assessing the Economic Impact of Ohio’s Third Frontier Program | SRI International

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Assessing the Economic Impact of Ohio’s Third Frontier Program

SRI's analyses and recommendations have bolstered support for a nearly $1 billion program extension.

Ohio Third Frontier is a $1.6 billion, 10-year investment in technology-based economic development launched in Ohio in 2002. A rigorous, objective assessment showed significant economic impact, including a 10:1 return on investment for the state, 18.5% annual growth in early-stage venture capital investment, and 4% growth in high-tech employment from 2004-2008. The Ohio Department of Development (ODOD), the state agency charged with implementing the Ohio Third Frontier and related state technology programs, sought an objective, comprehensive assessment as a basis for considering future funding.

ODOD selected SRI’s Center for Science, Technology and Economic Development (CSTED) and its partner, Georgia Institute of Technology, for their combination of expertise, independence, and fresh perspective.

The SRI team's analyses included:

  • Examining direct, indirect, and total economic impact of Ohio Third Frontier-supported R&D activity, product sales, and construction activity
  • Synthesis of seed and venture capital investment, technology transfer indicators, R&D expenditures, patent and publications activity, and industry cluster data
  • Detailed case studies of the role Ohio's technology programs have played in supporting emerging technology clusters (e.g., biomedical imaging, fuel cells, photovoltaics, and flexible electronics) and assisting companies in commercializing new technologies (19 companies across a variety of industry sectors)

The findings have been used to bolster support for a nearly $1 billion extension and expansion of the Ohio Third Frontier program. SRI’s David Cheney, Ph.D., testified at a hearing on the program before the Ohio House Economic Development Committee on December 9, 2009. In January 2010, the Ohio State House voted to place the Ohio Third Frontier renewal on the May 2010 ballot. It was approved.