News from Ohio State University

Ohio State hosts inaugural Startup Midwest to support tech entrepreneurs

The Buckeye State is ready to compete with the best of the West. That was the mood at the inaugural Startup Midwest: the premier event for rising technology entrepreneurs at The Ohio State University.

The two-day event, hosted by the university’s Center for Software Innovation, was attended by over 300 people and featured keynote addresses from Ratmir Timashev, software entrepreneur, investor and co-founder of Veeam Software; Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted; Carl Eschenbach, co-CEO of Workday; and Andrew Lang, Global CTO of JPMorgan Chase.

Peter Mohler, Ohio State’s acting president and executive vice president for research, innovation and knowledge, helped kick off the first day of Startup Midwest by highlighting the university’s place in a growing innovation-focused ecosystem.

“No matter where you are in the entrepreneurial landscape, you’ll find value in the discussions, breakout sessions … and networking opportunities available here. Ohio State’s network of support and established resources make our university a true destination for entrepreneurs to grow and thrive,” he said. “There's a lot to get excited about, not only during this event but for the future of entrepreneurship at Ohio State and across Ohio.”

Timashev, whose vision for the Center for Software Innovation and the generosity of the Timashev Family Foundation made Startup Midwest possible, said Columbus and Ohio are poised to become a globally prominent, high-tech hub.

“For many here like me, we don’t need to explain why Columbus makes total sense. This is in our DNA. In Columbus, we are gritty. We know how to get the job done,” he said. “We are accelerating the move Columbus has been making in becoming a global tech hub. It’s been already happening. We are just accelerating.

“Columbus is the place where innovation thrives, where opportunities multiply and where the spirit of entrepreneurship becomes ingrained in this city’s identity.”

Timashev and Eschenbach participated in a conversation about entrepreneurship and innovation moderated by Mohler, discussing their experience starting and managing successful software technology companies. Both agreed that the world is on the cusp of another technological revolution with the growth of artificial intelligence tools like ChatGPT.

Breakout sessions at the event focused on new product development; the power of networking and building relationships; the challenges and rewards of starting a company; and the tools and resources Ohio State is providing faculty and students to bring their innovations to market.

Guest speakers included Ayanna Howard, dean of the College of Engineering; Tim Grace, managing director of Techstars Columbus; and Ben Davis, a student and co-founder of Insiderviz, a trading data and visualization tool.

Attendees, including Ohio State students and faculty as well as emerging entrepreneurs and innovators, heard from technology experts, funders and startup founders who provided valuable content, education and opportunities for early-stage technology entrepreneurs.

Husted helped close out Startup Midwest with an address at Ohio Stadium. He reinforced the message of viewing Ohio as a worthy competitor to Silicon Valley.

“My aspiration for Ohio is that we are the most innovative entrepreneurial state in the Midwest and that we use technology to improve the way we serve our customers, the people in the state of Ohio, which should be your goal as entrepreneurs every day,” he said.

Shereen Agrawal, the executive director of the Center for Software Innovation, said that Startup Midwest shows the momentum and energy of the community that is essential to building the center.

“Over the past few days we have been immersed in deep connection and conversation. We have a nearly unimaginable opportunity to be the hub for how software impacts our future,” she said. “Software will increasingly penetrate each industry vertical and together we will be fostering the talent and innovation to create immense world impact.”