Home to Battelle, the world’s largest independent research and development organization and inventors of Xerox copiers, compact discs, and even cruise control, Columbus has a history of technological advancement. But these game-changing developments are just a part of the dynamic culture of innovation in Columbus. After winning the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Smart City Challenge in 2016, Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther hired the city’s first chief innovation officer with the goal of becoming “the nation’s teacher in how to become a Smart City.”
At the forefront of Columbus’ innovation boom is the transportation industry. The Smart Columbus Experience Center allows visitors to have firsthand interactions with the advancements the city is implementing to become digitally connected. The first-of-its-kind downtown learning center offers test drives of electric vehicles and visitors can take advantage of all the brain stimulation to lead to breakthroughs within their own industries when utilizing meeting space on site.
Transportation advancements are evident across Columbus and can be incorporated into meeting itineraries through site visits or speakers. The Honda lab is responsible for developing the supercar Acura NSX. The Transportation Research Center is North America’s largest independent vehicle test facility. The Ohio State University’s Center for Automotive Research (CAR) lab is the nation’s preeminent research center in sustainable and safe mobility.
The Innovation Neighborhood
Franklinton, just east of downtown, is a hotbed of arts and technology that has developed into the city’s innovation neighborhood. At its heart is the Idea Foundry, the largest and most-acclaimed maker space in the world, which houses artists, techies, and entrepreneurs developing creations ranging from video games to 3D printed inventions. The 60,000-square-foot facility offers workspaces, offices, classrooms, and communal spaces to inspire and encourage innovation to the community.
Interactive Kiosk Experience (IKE)
The newest assets to Columbus’ growing tech scene are Interactive Kiosk Experiences, known as IKEs, throughout the city’s commercial and entertainment areas, including the University District, Arena District, Short North Arts District, downtown, Brewery District, and German Village. In addition to acting as a wireless hotspot, these kiosks drive discovery through listings of area restaurants, shops, activities, services, and resources. Pedestrians can explore all happenings in Columbus, from upcoming events to transit info, with the touch of a finger.