In Columbus, innovation is a way of life. After winning the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Smart City Challenge in 2016, Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther hired the first chief innovation officer with the goal of becoming “the nation’s teacher in how to become a Smart City” with innovation becoming Columbus’ “ultimate export to other cities.” As a meeting planner, there are several ways to capitalize on this for groups meeting in the city.

Ideate in an Innovation Neighborhood

Franklinton, just east of downtown, is a hotbed of arts and technology and in recent years has developed into the city’s innovation neighborhood.

The largest and most-acclaimed makerspace in the world, the Idea Foundry, is in the heart of Franklinton and offers 60,000 sq. ft. of workshops, offices, classrooms and communal spaces. There are numerous ways to engage with this facility while meeting in Columbus.

In addition to co-working space for the 220+ small businesses that create this small business ecosystem, the Idea Foundry offers rooms to rent for board meetings or workshop-sized groups, or stadium seating that holds about 225 in the heart of the space, as well as loft space and outdoor terraces for reception-style events for another 100-200 people.

Team Building
At the Idea Foundry, furniture, sculpture, jewelry, drones, motorcycles, 3D printers and more come to life daily in the hands of artists, techies and entrepreneurs. Teambuilding opportunities for 20-40 people are available through some of these ventures.

The Idea Foundry team has traveled all over the world from New York to LA to Barcelona and Montreal and beyond to present their experiences regarding the Maker Movement, Makerspaces and the changing nature of the Democratization of Opportunity, as well as to offer expertise to other groups hoping to create makerspaces of their own, and are open to working with groups meeting in Columbus as well.

One block away is a century-old warehouse that functions as an artist incubator space that houses more than 140 Columbus-based artists, craftsmen, designers and performers. 400 West Rich (both address and facility name) offers not only studio space but a place for the creative class to meet, network, collaborate, brainstorm and, of course, create. Meetings in Columbus can take advantage of both the space and offerings found within the facility.

Currently, 400 West Rich houses 101 artist studios, four music studios, local start-ups and non-profit offices, co-working space, the Ohio State University STEAM factory and Ohio Art League space. The attached Strongwater event space is chic and inviting and can hold up to 600 in one of two galleries, or up to 1,300 people in both galleries and an outdoor courtyard making it a particularly ideal place for special events.

Team Building
Whether its painting, clay or the aerial arts, many artists in the building offer classes for all ages and skill levels that make for fun and unique teambuilding.

Train with Transportation

Transportation is a sector in which innovation truly shines in Columbus. Tour our one-of-a-kind facilities to learn about things that aren’t happening anywhere else.

Start the day at the Honda lab responsible for developing vehicles like the supercar Acura NSX and check out the Transportation Research Center, North America’s largest independent vehicle test facility and proving grounds. Next, head to the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) at The Ohio State University. The CAR Lab is the preeminent research center in sustainable and safe mobility in the United States and was the recipient of the U.S. Department of Energy award to develop an integrated smart city logistics and transit system.

End the day at the Smart Columbus Experience Center to learn about and experience the advancements we’re making in becoming a smart, digitally connected city. This first-of-its-kind learning center in the heart of downtown on the Scioto Mile riverfront lets you see what the future will look like and learn how the Smart Columbus movement will transport our city to the future – and be a model for other cities. Test-drive an electric car or tour Columbus’ public riverfront spaces aboard an all-electric autonomous shuttle. The availability of small group meeting space allows all that brain stimulation to be put to good use right away in a brainstorming session on how the day’s learnings can translate into innovations in your own organizations.