UC Venture Lab ignites surge in startups, investment dollars

$100 million milestone achieved

By two key measures, the Cincinnati Innovation District (CID) is demonstrating success at an accelerated pace in developing entrepreneurial talent.

More than $100 million in investment dollars has been achieved at the University of Cincinnati through initiatives led by the Office of Innovation, including the Venture Lab program and Tech Transfer. The Venture Lab program is also celebrating a milestone, having increased the number of startups to 75 since the program’s inception.

Comparatively, in 2017, the university had developed one to two startups per year, and now in just five years has increased that figure 12-fold through the Venture Lab program. This growth propulsion demonstrates the value of the Cincinnati Innovation District (CID) — a catalyst for attracting and developing talent that is seeking to transform their ideas into startup businesses.

“With a focus on speed, we have basically given faculty, entrepreneurs, and industry the proverbial ‘easy button’ to commercialize their ideas,” said David J. Adams, UC's chief innovation officer.

Fast-tracking bone health to underground mapping and more

Several successful startups launched through the Venture Lab program have announced major funding dollars raised in recent months. The number of thriving stories, such as the following examples below, continues growing.

  • Amplicore, a Mason-based early-stage biopharma startup, is developing drugs to treat musculoskeletal disorders such as osteoarthritis. has secured $6.3 million in funding
  • Neural Payments connects financial institutions to payment innovations and received $2 million to fund their idea
  • Subterra AI digitizes underground mapping and has $1.42 million secured capital

In 2018, through its Technology Transfer team, the Office of Innovation had facilitated a path toward commercial success. They engaged faculty and would-be entrepreneurs in developing the university’s industry-tier and express licensing programs.

These changes eliminated friction by speeding up the invention-to-startup process related to intellectual property (IP) disclosures at UC. This sparked favorable engagement of students and faculty interested in learning more.

Shortly thereafter, the UC Venture Lab held its first cohort class connecting founders with talent and entrepreneurs-in-residence, thus accelerating the process of getting their ideas to market.

“Through the simplification and service-first approach to IP and the establishment of a pre-accelerator program, UC has accelerated its output at unparalleled levels,” Adams said.

The barriers that previously impeded the ease and speed for innovation to reach commercialization have been removed. The commercialization practices of UC through the Office of Innovation pave the way for brilliance transferring to market through the Venture Lab program. Venture Lab graduate successes include talent with fantastic ideas who connected with resources, experts, and investors through the Accelerator programs.

Unexpected inventions created by uncommon inventors have been shaping the world for centuries. UC is proud of its continued commitment to driving innovation, developing talent, and removing barriers to turning great ideas into real-world solutions.

Individuals wishing to bring their ideas to life through a streamlined and accelerated path can apply to the UC Venture Lab Pre-Accelerator program.

The 75 successful startups who participated in the program attribute their success to various factors. These include demystifying the process of IP, revising the barriers surrounding entry, and the speed and structure that simplified the progression of their ideas through to commercialization.

Featured image at top: 1819 Innovation Hub

Headshot of Diana M. Lara

Diana M. Lara

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 along with JobsOhio and innovation district leadership, 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.