University Economic Development Association


Innovation Strategy Investment Program

Award Category: Innovation
Project Site: Innovation Strategy Investment Program
Submitted By: Ohio University
Contact: Pam Benoit , 740.593.2611


The purpose of OHIO’s Innovation Strategy Investment Program (ISIP) is to leverage Ohio University’s expertise by investing significant resources in innovative, interdisciplinary projects that address big challenges facing society. The program operationalizes OHIO’s Innovation Strategy, a planning process initiated in 2013 to identify “portfolio” areas in which OHIO has existing strengths and where further investment could yield significant societal benefits. The four portfolios identified in the planning process include Digitally Connected World; Energy, Environment, and the Economy; Health and Wellness; and Vibrant Societies and Economies.

The Innovation Strategy expands OHIO’s definition of innovation beyond technology and business development, and even beyond social and public policy, to also encompass Institutional operation, Teaching and Learning, and Quality of Place. ISIP funds competitive interdisciplinary projects that address these portfolios and involve at least two colleges. Funds are available for major multi-year grants as well as smaller seed and planning grants that help teams develop nascent project ideas.

The inaugural ISIP cycle generated an unexpectedly high response and unprecedented interdisciplinary activity. In 2015-16 ISIP awarded $4.5 million to 16 projects including four major initiatives addressing issues ranging from improving medical diagnostics and developing novel teaching strategies to enhancing regional economic development and designing a new student program for immersive media technologies.

Strategic planning exercises often result in aspirational language but do not create implementation mechanisms. In ISIP, OHIO has taken that extra step. This is not a one-time gesture but a long-term commitment; ISIP’s second grant cycle will begin in September 2016.