September 25, 2012
Catalyzing Innovation: Q&A with Michael Fisher
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
In the cover story in the current issue of ChamberConnect, the Chamber spoke with leaders about the importance of the innovation economy. This week's Q&A is with Michael Fisher, president and CEO of Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. Fisher is the keynote speaker at the Chamber's Annual Lunch on October 18.
What do people mean by the innovation economy and why are we all suddenly talking about it?
The "innovation economy" is about finding new ideas, finding better ways of doing things, making important connections or leveraging information technologies to generate jobs, products and services that improve our way of life.
In the case of Cincinnati Children's, our innovations include new therapies, drugs, surgical devices, and diagnostic tests. We have also developed new IT tools and technologies that help us to help improve quality-of-life outcomes for kids.
So, why are people talking about the innovation economy? The innovation economy has a direct or indirect effect on all of us. It can generate better value for consumers, make life simpler or more meaningful, create new jobs, grow companies, and solve large and small problems.
The innovation economy is gaining traction in our region because of new cooperation we're seeing among businesses and institutions. Independently, there have been individual groups focusing on
innovation work for years, for decades. But over the very recent past, there has been a collective, collaborative and intentional effort to work together to develop and commercialize great ideas invented in our region. Our region is advancing as a destination place for inventors and entrepreneurs who want to grow their good ideas and start new businesses.
How is your organization contributing to the innovation economy here?
Innovation is a way of life at Cincinnati Children's. It transcends everything we do. One -third of our total organization is dedicated to the work of our Research Foundation. Researchers are searching for answers to complicated medical problems. Last year we invested more than $170 million in laboratory and applied research costs that are not covered by grants or industry support. In addition, we received grants and awards of nearly $154 million. These human and monetary resources are used to work on discoveries that we hope will someday make their way into the marketplace and improve the health of children locally and globally.
We support innovation through licensing of our technologies, partnering with other organizations, and investing in new startup companies. Despite the weak economy, this work is growing at Cincinnati Children's. In fiscal 2012, our Center for Technology Commercialization disclosed 188 new discoveries and research tools to would-be partners - an all-time high. We launched two new local start-up businesses. And, we filed 52 patent applications - 35 in the U.S. and 17 outside the U.S.
We also contribute to the innovation economy by attracting some of the most talented doctors, scientists, and teachers in the world. We have employees at Cincinnati Children's from more than 90 countries working in high-skill, high-pay jobs. And, because of this talent, we were able to attract patients from 50 countries and 48 states last year to Cincinnati - families and children who came here to receive world-class medical care. In total, we have about 13,000 employees living, working and contributing to our local communities and economies.
Also, we just broke ground on a new clinical sciences building on our main campus. The direct investment is $180 million. Of course, as a not-for-profit entity, we're counting on a substantial portion of that coming from philanthropy. And, this new space will enable us to attract and retain more of the world's top-notch innovators and clinicians who want to be at the leading edge of discovery.
In addition, we are working within the Greater Cincinnati community on two initiatives that were recommended by the Innovation Task Force originally set up by the Cincinnati Business Committee (CBC).
- The building of an innovation hub - a physical space that will serve as a magnet and resource for research and development, funding, entrepreneurs, support services, and talent. This hub will drive good ideas, foster connections between people, and further the innovation culture. If we can bring our leading scientists together with successful business entrepreneurs, we can accelerate our discoveries into the marketplace.
- The "Fund of Funds" - established to invest in a number of venture capital firms. These firms would then invest in several "industry cluster" strengths of our region, including early stage life science companies. We're confident these investments will benefit Cincinnati Children's.
What does that contribution mean for the Greater Cincinnati/Northern KY business community - and our quality of life?
The contribution means that we can better fulfill our mission of being the leader in improving child health. It's about new discoveries in our research labs that lead to real-world health-care solutions. The work is important and the impact on children and families is profound - both in our local community and around the world.