Ohio University and the Ohio State University want their graduates to have the option to stay in the state to seek jobs in emerging technology when they graduate.
The Ohio Innovation Fund was created in 2012 to accomplish that goal, but the fund has just gotten off the ground this year with a newly hired fund manager.
“A lot of this is new so far,” fund manager Bill Baumel said. “I have found the opportunities out there have been promising … and so far, I’ve been very happy.”
Baumel said the fund has already made one deal that it has not gone public with yet, and another one is in the works.
It typically takes about five years to find all companies to work with during an investment phase, which is what the fund is in now, Baumel said.
The fund is a venture capital fund, which means it focuses on smaller startups and businesses with high potential for growth. It invests what is called equity capital, money invested for an interest in the ownership of a company, and can take on what could be higher risks for more money in the end.
“Venture funds look at a number of companies, about 10 to 20 companies per investment,” Baumel said. “We’re always out there looking at new companies.”
OU contributed about $15 million from the OU Fund, and OSU gave $20 million to start up the fund in 2012, though the process to create it started years before, according to a previous Post report.
OU President Roderick McDavis and former OSU President E. Gordon Gee initiated the partnership through what is called a white paper, or an informational document, from the OU Foundation, according to a previous Post report.
Baumel said three of his goals were to have venture capital level returns, to drive broad market adoption and to create jobs in an industry of the future.
“We hope that if students want to go into cybersecurity or health care data analytics or join a start up, they don’t have to look to Boston or Austin or Silicon Valley anymore,” Baumel said.
He added that the fund could also create more opportunities in Ohio.
“Some of the most promising technologies developed at Ohio institutions are now making it beyond the concept phase,” Geoff Chatas, senior vice president and chief financial officer at OSU, said in an email. “But early-stage companies need support to make the final leap into full-fledged growth.”
Baumel was recruited in January to lead the fund.
“Bill grew up in Cincinnati, graduated from Ohio State, and has a demonstrated track record of helping to build multiple successful companies in Silicon Valley which achieved either an initial public offering or were acquired at values ranging from $100 million to over $500 million,” Stephen Golding, vice president for Finance and Administration, said in an email.
Baumel has been a limited partner at Ohio Tech Angel Fund, a group of for-profit investor funds, and has worked with a number of universities and federal labs such as Stanford University, Georgia Tech University’s Incubator and the University of New Mexico on technology transfer and company restructuring.
“This is the right time for the Ohio Innovation Fund, and Bill is the right leader,” Chatas said in an email. “Bill has both a deep understanding of venture capital and a passion for Ohio that will serve the fund well.”