IT Collaboration in Ohio Spurs Innovation Like Nowhere Else

By Ben Blanquera
VP Delivery and Experience for Columbus Collaboratory

I came to central Ohio from Louisville in 1996 when Owens Corning in Granville acquired the startup company where I worked. I would not have guessed at the time that Ohio would become the best state in the nation to work and succeed in the information technology industry. But today I am convinced that it is.

Information technology, computer systems design, computer equipment manufacturing, software publishers and other information services contribute to a robust IT industry in Ohio.

Many of the customers of technology firms – financial services, consumer retail, food processing, healthcare, and manufacturing – are already in Ohio. Our state has a wide array of industries, an abundance of organizations and institutions already committed to pursuing advancements in this field and a rich history of innovation.

You will hear people like myself – transplants from one of the coasts – rave that Ohio has a great cost of living, and we do. I can enjoy a short commute, great schools and live in a 4,000-square-foot house for the amount it would cost me for a 400-square-foot apartment in San Francisco. That means I can spend more time with my family in a nice house in a neighborhood I love. I know Ohio is the place for me.

Ohio also offers unbelievable talent. We’re teeming with innovative college students, from more than 200 higher education institutions, and great companies that want to hire them. World-class Fortune 500 companies are not here by accident; they are here because they are able to mine the talent and workforce they need to succeed.

But more important than any other factor in Ohio’s success is our spirit of collaboration. We believe in something bigger than ourselves – and that maybe it's worth working together to achieve it.

Through JobsOhio and the Ohio Third Frontier Program, we have a statewide infrastructure that not only invests in our success, but also ensures that we do so collaboratively.

Each region of the state has its own unique assets, but today we are pooling these assets with one another to ensure statewide success. We're seeing people going from region to region, visiting one another and figuring out how they can succeed together.

I’ve also seen something truly unique from the major corporations in Ohio. Seven of Ohio’s major corporations pooled their resources and capital dollars to form an innovative technology startup called the Columbus Collaboratory to solve their most pressing business challenges.  

We’re also seeing collaboration through mentorship. Rather than cashing out on their early successful ventures and buying an island somewhere, our technology pioneers are staying, reinvesting and passing along what they have learned to those who have not yet experienced success. That doesn’t happen many other places, but it happens here.

Look at what happened at Cardinal Health in central Ohio, which recognized a need to do something different to inspire creative ideas and attract top talent for development of commercial technologies to solve healthcare problems.

Cardinal created Fuse, an innovation center that maintains an unexpected startup atmosphere. Now, through Fuse, one of the largest and most successful corporations in the nation is able to think like a startup.

This is the kind of innovation we’re seeing all over the state. So, why aren’t you here?

Ben Blanquera, VP Delivery and Experience for Columbus Collaboratory
The Columbus Collaboratory