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Ohio leaders say the Cleveland Innovation District is creating jobs and increasing collaboration

Gov. Mike DeWine joined health and education leaders Monday to address updates on the Cleveland Innovation District, a state-sponsored partnership set to bring jobs and advancements in medical research to the Cleveland area. [The Ohio Channel]
Gov. Mike DeWine joined health and education leaders Monday to address updates on the Cleveland Innovation District, a state-sponsored partnership set to bring jobs and advancements in medical research to the Cleveland area. [The Ohio Channel]

State officials said Monday that hundreds of new jobs have been added to the Cleveland area, new research projects have started and collaboration has grown thanks to the Cleveland Innovation District, a state-sponsored partnership between city's three major health systems and two universities.

Gov. Mike DeWine, Lt. Gov. Jon Husted and leaders from those institutions provided an update in Cleveland Monday on the collaboration, which launched in January.

The goals of the project are to boost job creation, economic development and advancements in research and health care over the next decade, Husted said.

“We’re seeing real progress in this, in just under a year,” Husted said.

Some of the highlights since the project launched include jobs added at the some of the health care systems, increased funding for new research areas and more collaboration between the universities and hospitals, DeWine said.

For example, Cleveland Clinic has filled 300 new positions in fields such as research, education, supply chain and information technology, DeWine said. The Clinic has committed to creating 1,000 new jobs over the next seven years as part of its contribution to the innovation district, he added.

The Clinic has also secured a partnership with IBM for its new Global Center for Pathogen Research, where researchers will study pathogens and novel viruses, “which will enhance the understanding of vital pathogens and be critical in preparing and protecting against public health threats,” DeWine said.

The Cleveland Clinic also completed construction of its new biorepository, which is the first new building to be built in the innovation district, Husted said.

At University Hospitals, officials have opened up 15 new research positions and began construction of Wesley Center for Immunotherapy at the UH Seidman Cancer Center, which will focus on new treatments and therapies for cancer patients, Husted added.

David Sylvan, President of UH Ventures, added that local industries, such as manufacturing, collaborated with health care organizations during the pandemic to help with challenges like the personal protective equipment shortage, which will help with the innovation district’s mission.

“Those relationships have continued, and I think industry and our corporate partners can play a very critical role being the stitching mechanism between the institutions, especially when it comes to the needs to make or manufacture, or prototype or pilot,” he said.

MetroHealth and CSU have begun a partnership in which psychology undergraduate students can get clinical experiences in behavioral health and addiction services, and be certified to practice without having to get a master’s degree, Husted said.

“It’s going to help more students, psychology graduates, become enabled to provide treatment for people in an area where we know we need more services, in addiction and mental health services,” Husted added.

Cleveland State has also committed to increasing its graduates in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields over the next 10 years, officials said.

Joanne Belovich, interim dean of CSU’s engineering college, said the innovation district has encouraged collaboration between the hospitals and the universities, which will help them bolster their programs, helping the hospitals hire good local talent.

“Being a part of this group helps us stay in touch with our partners and what the needs are going to be a couple years down the road – five years down the road, 10 years down the road – for both specific programs, specific disciplines, new programs, such as our data science program that we’re starting up,” Belovich said. “We’re going to be staying in touch with the needs of the community and growing along with it.”

Case Western Reserve University officials have secured 50% of funding for new biomedical research in cancer, including early detection of prostate cancer and new 3D ultrasound technology.

Aside from the individual projects the institutions are working on, they are also increasing collaboration with each other with the goal of becoming the innovation epicenter of the Midwest, said Dr. Serpil Erzurum of Cleveland Clinic.

“That’s going to open up all sorts of opportunities for us as we start to grow together, communicate, learn about each other, build this knowledge about each other. And we have the same goals,” Erzurum said. “Northeast Ohio has always been a hub for discovery and innovation, for decades, and now is our chance to recreate really Cleveland, Northeast Ohio, as the center for innovation for the nation and even the world.”

Cleveland was the second Ohio city after Cincinnati to create a designated innovation district. Columbus industries are also forming an innovation district, officials said.

anna.huntsman@ideastream.org | 216-916-6058