Personal Care manufacturer Kao USA joins Cincinnati Innovation District

By Deanna Utroske

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images \ (EtiAmmos)
© Getty Images \ (EtiAmmos)

Related tags University of Cincinnati Innovation STEM accelerator

This summer, the company behind brands like Oribe, Jergens, Bioré, and Molton Brown moved into the University of Cincinnati’s 1819 Innovation Hub to better connect with local STEM talent and collaborate on the future of beauty.

“We had an opportunity to do a test project with the UC 1819 Innovation Hub and we were very impressed,” ​Karen Frank, President Mass Sector and President Kao USA Inc., says in a recent news item about the partnership posted to​ in August.

“The team was amazing, and the students’ ideas and creativity blew us away,” ​says Frank, adding that, “With our strategic partnership, we look forward to working together on so many more things, bringing fresh perspectives into our innovation process along with a very collaborative and inspiring space to work.”

The Cincinnati Innovation District connects people and business with growth opportunities  

In March, JobsOhio, the University of Cincinnati, and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, teamed up to create the Cincinnati Innovation District, a venture that brings students, graduates, and businesses together to do coordinated research, bolster the local economy, and benefit the institutions and businesses involved.   

“We are energized by JobsOhio’s commitment to research and innovation,”​ said Michael Fisher, president and CEO of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, in a media release announcing the Cincinnati Innovation District that circulated earlier this year.

“This unprecedented investment will help us continue to attract, retain and inspire exceptional talent from around the world; accelerate new discoveries, treatments, and cures; and, most importantly, make a difference in the health and lives of children in Ohio, and well beyond,” ​he says.

Kao USA looks to UC community for innovative ideas and top talent

“Innovation is about driving aggressive, creative change throughout the entire organization,” ​says Jesse Grissom, President of Operations for the Kao Americas region, in remarks quoted in the news item on the university site.  

“It’s about changing the culture from a comfortable, slow environment to one where challenging the status quo is an unconscious element of what we do on a daily basis,” ​he says, going on to explain that, “This collaboration with UC and having 1819’s incredibly passionate and energetic resources at our fingertips will create a valuable mechanism that we can leverage to drive strategic and sustainable growth for the future.”

Being a part of the Cincinnati Innovation District means having access to top talent, an on-site tech accelerator, and the inspiring business culture that arises when startups, SMBs, and Fortune 500 companies come together to work in the same mixed-use urban community.

David J Adams, Chief Innovation Officer of the University of Cincinnati, sees great potential in the district and the Kao USA partnership in particular: “Our partnership with Kao USA supports our mandate as laid out by Governor DeWine and JobsOhio: to accelerate the creation of 15,000+ STEM graduates and $2B in research for our region.”

“Attracting corporations like Kao USA into the CID,” ​says Adams, “gives affirmation that our model is a blueprint for the state and the nation. We are proud to welcome Kao USA to that success story.”

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