UC’s chief innovation officer receives Upward & Onward! Award

REDI Cincinnati honors David J. Adams for lasting economic impact on Cincinnati

Known for his vision for strategic economic growth and development, and igniting “creative collisions” between academic research, resources and industry, David J. Adams, UC chief innovation officer and architect for the Cincinnati Innovation District® (CID), was named as this year’s recipient of REDI Cincinnati’s Wm. T. (Bill) Robinson III Upward & Onward! Award.

Each year, REDI Cincinnati — local economic development experts who bring the area’s top business and community leaders together to enhance the regional economy — presents its Upward & Onward! Award to an individual who has made a lasting economic impact on the Cincinnati region.

The award is named after the late Bill Robinson, one of REDI Cincinnati’s founders and a person who dedicated his entire career to creating economic prosperity. The recipient of this award embodies:

  • Regionalism, which is the backbone of our REDI mission

  • Advocacy, as a member of a dynamic and close-knit community

  • Passion for this vibrant region we call home

  • Optimism for each new goal and project taken on

“As we write the next and best chapter of our local and state innovation story, David Adams has been a key connector and driver, pushing forward to reimagine what’s next," said UC President Neville G. Pinto, who appointed Adams as UC’s first Chief Innovation Officer in July 2017. "He has forged ahead with new ideas and new relationships that are setting the foundation for even greater momentum.

“His addition to the university’s leadership team came in the months leading up to UC’s launch of its Next Lives Here strategic direction, which emphasizes a renewed commitment to the university’s culture of innovation and impact.” 

While Adams was a member of REDI Cincinnati’s executive committee he never had the opportunity to meet William T. Robinson personally, but said he quickly learned about Robinson’s long-standing reputation for being an individual that catalyzed change, was highly collaborative and always brought an optimistic, can-do attitude. 

”It is an honor to be recognized with an award that bears his name,” adds Adams. “I think he summarized well the best measure of one’s success wrapped into one simple question, ‘How do we make a positive difference in the lives of those we have had the privilege to serve?’ Well said, Bill. Thank you!”

Illuminating impact

Video link: https://www.youtube.com/embed/VT2m4XcSTME?rel=0

REDI Cincinnati hosted its seventh annual meeting virtually with more than 200 guests to celebrate the region’s 2020 project wins, present its annual awards and look at what to expect for the region’s economic development efforts in 2021.

Since its inception in 2014, REDI Cincinnati has been a collaborative think-tank driven to help support local and regional companies with their growth and expansion efforts. Today, REDI is the first point of contact for burgeoning companies considering the 16-county, three-state Cincinnati region as a perfect place to locate and grow.  

“In his role at the University of Cincinnati, David Adams is responsible for leading the Cincinnati region’s efforts for the Cincinnati Innovation District,” says Kimm Lauterbach, president and CEO of REDI Cincinnati. “As an outgoing member of REDI Cincinnati’s executive committee, David has generously given his time, talent and knowledge to other organizations working to grow the Cincinnati region.”

Since taking the helm as the university’s lead on innovation, Adams has successfully attracted multiple Fortune 500 and midsized companies to the booming and prospering ecosystem. In addition, he has led the dramatic acceleration of startup development from two to almost 50 in just three years. The Cincinnati Innovation District®, a statewide model, is a catalyst for organizations to gain direct access to student talent, research talent and collaboration, adds Lauterbach. 

A recent study from the Brookings Institution further validates this claim. According to the Global Institute on Innovation Districts, Cincinnati is listed among only 20 U.S. markets and 100 cities worldwide at the forefront of a new geography of innovation.

“On behalf of my team, the University of Cincinnati and our community, I want to thank the entire REDI organization for honoring me as this year’s recipient and for their collective efforts to strengthen our region,” says Adams. “This is clearly a collective effort and it’s a team sport. And as I say, stay tuned — we’re just getting started.”


Featured image at top: UC Chief Innovation Officer David J. Adams in his office overlooking the construction of the Digital Futures Complex buildings. photo/Greg Glevicky/UC Office of Innovation

About the Cincinnati Innovation District

The Cincinnati Innovation District® is a unique and thriving ecosystem that attracts, produces, retains and develops talent by co-locating and collaborating with organizations. Unveiled in 2020 by Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and Lt. Governor Jon Husted, the district envelops myriad innovation assets and access to some of the world’s leading academic and research centers, organizations and talent pools. Powered by the University of Cincinnati, the CID includes the world-renowned Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and other national research centers. The district’s mission is to become a globally recognized talent hub and lead a transformational movement. The combination of industry engagement, unique experiential platforms and accessible research expertise — working at the pace of change — will become a model nationwide. For more information on the Cincinnati Innovation District, visit www.cincyid.com

About the 1819 Innovation Hub

The nerve center of the Cincinnati Innovation District®. Home to startups and midsized and Fortune 500 companies, the 1819 Innovation Hub is an ecosystem that serves as a catalyst for collaboration for industry and talent. The 1819 Innovation Hub is the home to UC’s Office of Innovation, UC’s Venture Lab (a startup accelerator program), UC’s Makerspace, UC’s Office of Technology Transfer and 14 corporate partners who are seeking access to talent and proximity for cross-collaboration. Partners that are currently embedded include: Procter & Gamble, Kroger, FIS, Kingsgate Logistics, Cincinnati Bell, Kao Brands, Hillman Accelerator, CincyTech, Village Life Outreach Project, Fifth Third Bank, Cincinnati Insurance Company, Live Well Collaborative and Simpson Center for Urban Futures.

Impact Lives Here

The University of Cincinnati is leading public urban universities into a new era of innovation and impact. Our faculty, staff and students are saving lives, changing outcomes and bending the future in our city's direction. Next Lives Here.

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