By JULIE CARR SMYTH
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio State University announced plans Thursday to use a $110 million donation from IT innovator and executive Ratmir Timashev’s family foundation to establish a software innovation center with the goal of becoming a new hub for new ideas, entrepreneurship and product development.
It is the largest gift in the university’s history.
“The idea is very simple,” Timashev told the university’s board. “To make Ohio State, Columbus and the Midwest the new high-tech mecca.”
The Center for Software Innovation will bring together the College of Engineering, the Fisher College of Business and other partners in new ways, including through the creation of endowed professorships, cutting-edge academic offerings and hands-on industry experience for students, the university said.
The center aims to catalyze efforts across a region that has recently burgeoned with investments by the technology industry.
Intel is building a $20 billion chip factory just east of the Columbus, and Honda and LG Energy Solution of South Korea are building a $3.5 billion battery plant in nearby Fayette County that the automaker envisions as its North American electric vehicle hub.
Timashev said “every business is a software business” today and the time and place are right for the center to succeed.
“Technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, cloud computing, quantum computers will change the world completely in the next five to 10 years,” he said.
The Russian-born Timashev earned a master’s degree in chemical physics in 1996 from Ohio State, one of the largest universities in the country. He co-founded Veeam Software, a global leader in cloud data management whose Americas headquarters is based in Columbus, and also a venture capitalist specializing in IT start-ups.
Ohio State President Kristina Johnson, who is resigning in May, thanked Timashev, his wife, Angela, and their family for the gift, saying it will benefit the university and region and ”stimulate innovation across the country for a very long time to come.”
The university recently named its new music building after the Timashev family after a $17 million donation from their foundation to the university’s College of Arts and Sciences in 2020. That building is part of its new Arts District.
Veeam also donated $5 milIion to the Arts and Sciences College in 2016, to support student scholarships, teaching and research in data analytics and chemical physics.
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