October 23, 2012
Catalyzing innovation: Q&A with Jeff Weedman
There are many transformative initiatives taking place right now that are intended to drive innovation and entrepreneurialism in the region. Among those is an effort by the Cincinnati Business Committee, which was motivated by work of Agenda 360 and Vision 2015, called Cintrifuse.
Cintrifuse will move into a building in Over-the-Rhine and work with partner organizations such as CincyTech, the Brandery and the Chamber to expand services to entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses.
In the cover story in the current issue of ChamberConnect, the Chamber spoke with leaders about the importance of the innovation economy. The entire interview transcript appears here.
This week's Q&A is with Jeff Weedman, former vice president, Global Business Development at P&G and executive on loan leading Cintrifuse.
What do people mean by the innovation economy and why are we all suddenly talking about it?
A robust innovation economy in Cincinnati builds jobs and companies organically by focusing both on locally "grown" and being a magnet for technology, entrepreneurship, innovators and knowledge. Cincinnati has long had many assets that are necessary for an innovation economy - for instance, the life science research being done at Cincinnati Children's Medical Center and The University of Cincinnati.
While we've had terrific community passion, the region has lacked a unified effort to truly allow it to flourish. Leveraging the strengths of CincyTech, Tri-State I and II investments, seed stage support for entrepreneurs through groups like Queen City Angels, and adding strong local corporate and institutional support, we are looking to build on these success stories. I think the growing realization that this region has many valuable innovation / entrepreneurial assets that are being underutilized has everyone excited about the future.
How is P&G contributing to the innovation economy here?
P&G has long supported innovation growth in the Greater Cincinnati region. We supported the creation of CincyTech, a public-private partnership whose mission is to invest in high-growth startup technology companies in Southwest Ohio. I continue to serve on the advisory board.
- We were a leader in working to bring to Ohio a Modeling and Simulation Center, aimed at making Ohio a source of key innovation in tomorrow's increasingly virtual world and a draw for top-talent students and business location. P&G continues to support this project with technology and expert resources.
- In 2010, signed a Master Collaboration agreement with the universities and colleges of Ohio, aimed at stimulating innovation partnerships, student opportunities and making the region a magnate to global business and innovation collaboration.
- We have strived to licensed brands and IP to regional startup companies, including our Pampers Kandoo brand to Nehemiah Manufacturing, Inc., and unutilized drug technologies to Akebia Therapeutics, Inc.
- We helped establish the Live Well Collaborative with the University of Cincinnati and other companies that helps give students skills they will need in an innovation economy - and hopefully their experiences working with local companies will influence many of them to remain in the region after they graduate.
- And, we are making a commitment to support Cintrifuse, both through my time and through financial support.
What does that contribution mean for the Greater Cincinnati/Northern KY business community - and our quality of life?
An improved climate of innovation can only help the Greater Cincinnati /Northern Kentucky business region. More innovation will lead to more startups. . .which requires more support goods and services from existing firms. . . which leads to more jobs in the region. A robust innovation pipeline will attract new talent to the region. It will provide more entrepreneurial opportunities to better ensure that current residents and local graduates will not need to leave for one of "the coasts" in order to have the chance to grow their own business.