The Third Frontier Project is a type of economic development initiative by the State of Ohio to expand research and technology economic development in the state. Initiated in 2002, the Third Frontier Commission executes the ten year, $1.6 billion project through a long list of programs, and the Third Frontier Advisory Board advises the Commission.
Goals of the Project include:
- Build world-class research capacity
- Support early stage capital formation and the development of new products
- Finance advanced manufacturing technologies to help existing industries become more productive
Third Frontier Commission plans to achieve its goals as a tech incubator, through financial support of new products and firms in targeted business clusters in the earliest stages (seed financing or earlier) of development. Through the Third Frontier Project, additional federal and private sector support can boost the total investment to more than $6 billion.
Third Frontier Programs
- Asset-Based Company Attraction Program (ABCAP)
- Biomedical Research and Commercialization Program (BRCP)
[formerly the Biomedical Research and Technology Transfer (BRTT) Partnership Award Program.]
- Contractor Services I (CS1)
- Contractor Services II (CS21)
- Engineering and Physical Science Research and Commercialization Program (EPSRCP)
- Entrepreneurial Signature Program (ESP)
- Innovation Ohio Loan Fund (IOF)
- Ohio Research Commercialization Grant Program (ORCGP)
- Pre-Seed Fund Initiative (PSFI)
[formerly Validation Fund & Seed Fund Initiative]
- Product Development Pilot Program (PDPP)
- Research Commercialization Program (RCP)
- Success and Pre-Seed Fund Initiative (SPSFI)
- The Ohio Research Scholars Program (ORSP)
- Third Frontier Advanced Energy Program (TFAEP)
- Third Frontier Fuel Cell Program (TFFCP)
- Third Frontier Internship Program (TFIP)
- Wright Centers of Innovation in Biosciences (WCIB)
- Wright Centers of Innovation in Engineering and Physical Sciences (WCIEPS)
- Wright Center of Innovation for Advanced Data Management and Analysis (WCIADMA), dba daytaOhio
- Wright Mega-centers of Innovation (WMCI)
- Wright Projects (WP)
Third Frontier Reports Available
Two reports were published evaluating the Third Frontier initiative. The full text findings of each report is available online.
In December 2009, the Ohio Business Roundtable published "Ohio Third Frontier: Analysis of Performance."  This report conducts "a quantitative analysis of the performance of the Ohio Third Frontier as it relates to economic measures such as leverage, product sales, tax revenues, return on investment, companies created, employment gains, and other impacts."
In September 2009, SRI International published "Making an Impact: Assessing the Benefits of Ohio's Investment Technology-Based Economic Development Programs". This report states it was published because "the Ohio Department of Development (ODOD) sought a rigorous, objective, and credible assessment of the impacts of key technology-based economic development (TBED) programs on Ohio’s current economy, as well as indicators of future impact. ODOD engaged SRI International and its partner, the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Enterprise Innovation Institute, with the guidance of the Ohio Third Frontier Advisory Board and Commission, to address a series of questions:
- What are the tangible economic impacts of the Ohio Third Frontier and related programs on Ohio companies, institutions, and universities?
- Does the return on these programs support their levels of investment?
- Do these programs place Ohio’s high-tech industries on a path consistent with successful cluster development and move Ohio toward a higher growth trajectory?"
Through 2010 the program has been credited with attracting 637 new high-tech companies to the state and 55,000 new jobs with an average salary of $65,000, while having a $6.6 billion economic impact with an investment return ratio of 9:1. In 2010 it won the International Economic Development Council's Excellence in Economic Development Award, celebrated as a national model of success.
- Ohio Third Frontier Continues to Create Jobs and Opportunities for Ohioans
- Ohio Third Frontier and Supporting Programs Win Top Tech Awards for Economic Development