Mobilize smart city engagement and investment in the Columbus region so that the Smart City Challenge win catalyzes Columbus’ transformation into America’s Smart City. 

Acceleration Fund

The Goal

Galvanize $1 billion in smart city investments in the Columbus Region.

The work of Smart Columbus has shown our community what’s possible when we use new technologies to move our community forward.

During the Smart City Challenge, Columbus' private sector rallied under the leadership of Mayor Andrew J. Ginther and The Columbus Partnership, a non-profit organization made up of 75 CEOs of the region's largest private sector employers. Collectively, the private sector in the Columbus Region committed to investing $90 million in aligned initiatives that would help grow the smart city opportunity if we won. This Smart Columbus “Acceleration Fund” was a key reason Columbus won the Challenge.

We estimate that the aligned regional investments by the City of Columbus, Franklin County, ODOT, MORPC, COTA, The Ohio State University, AEP Ohio, IGS, Honda, JobsOhio, the Columbus Partnership and others have created an economic impact of nearly $720 million, and created or induced 3,870 jobs. 

All of this investment and activity has created momentum and elevated the Columbus Region’s global reputation.  

Driving change through collective action 

Through the Electrification Program, Smart Columbus assembled a network of 75 Acceleration Partners, who together inspired and enabled employees to drive electric and drive less. Together, these companies helped to host nearly 1,200 electric vehicle (EV) test drives and created 31 new mobility benefits to delight employees while helping to reduce our region’s reliance on single occupant vehicles.

Acceleration Partners also installed thousands of electric vehicle charging ports at worksites throughout the Region, thanks to a groundbreaking $9.5 million incentive program from AEP Ohio. AEP Ohio also installed more than 500,000 smart meters throughout its service territory to help modernize the electric grid. 

Expanding on the decarbonization vision of the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation grant awarded through the Smart City Challenge, the Columbus Partnership has launched a collaborative energy buying program to help large corporate and industry buyers accelerate their transition to clean energy. Columbus residents are ready to go green as well, approving citywide residential renewable energy aggregation in the 2020 election. Both initiatives support the city’s Climate Action Plan, with a goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.

Inviting ingenuity 

Thanks to the excitement of the Challenge and investment in key assets, Columbus is a premier location for the development of groundbreaking mobility technologies and business concepts. 

Columbus is now the most sophisticated and advanced proving ground for autonomous vehicle testing in the country, between research being conducted at The Ohio State University’s Center for Automotive Research, industry testing underway at Transportation Research Center’s SMARTCenter and the real-world deployments conducted by Smart Columbus and DriveOhio.

The Ohio State University has also launched its Smart Campus initiative, a student-driven, multidisciplinary organization that develops innovative solutions through collaborative efforts and project-based teams to improve the Ohio State community.

Startups and legacy companies are proving new concepts on Columbus city streets. Orange Barrel Media deployed their IKE interactive kiosks at Smart Columbus’ smart mobility hubs, and was able to apply learnings in 20 cities nationwide. Share Mobility is helping companies, cities and senior care organizations deliver Mobility as a Service. Yellow Cab of Columbus is pioneering a distributed vehicle leasing model that’s putting access to employment into  opportunity neighborhoods.

Stretching from Dublin to Marysville and joined by a stretch of connected highway, the “Beta District” located northwest of downtown Columbus invites companies to prove out new technologies in its live labs. 

Preparing for growth

All of this collective action is helping to inform how we think about the future and prepare for our regional population to grow by one million more people by 2050.

The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) is working to move people and goods in better ways. LinkUS, a collaboration between MORPC, COTA and the City of Columbus, is designing the future of transportation around a system of corridors that will provide equitable mobility options, ensure access to jobs and affordable housing and improve sustainability. 

The City of Columbus is ensuring vehicles will move safely through our streets, signing on to the national Vision Zero initiative, with the vision of zero traffic deaths. A citywide Strategic Parking Plan will also ease parking hassles in some of the city’s most congested areas. 

Leading the way

Columbus has paved the way for other cities to follow in their pursuits of innovation.

Columbus is now one of the United States’ preeminent locations for smart city innovation. Delegations from 80 cities and 20 countries have converged in Columbus to learn from our playbook.

We’ve also readied the Region for future federal priorities. We’ve demonstrated how infrastructure projects can be infused with technology to promote equity, and how to propel adoption of electric vehicles and renewable energy. Our Region has shown cities around the country how to capitalize on federal investment to foster prosperity, and we’re poised to continue this work through a growing number of opportunities and partnerships.

Autonomous Connected Electric Shared Economic Development Quality of Life Safety Sustainability Acceleration Fund Delaware Fairfield Franklin Licking Madison Pickaway Union

Accelerate Our Progress

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See the Future

Visit the Smart Columbus Experience Center to touch, see and drive the future of mobility