EDGE Innovation Hub Creates Space for Food Innovators

Photos by Susan Post

The Grote family has given Columbus (and beyond) well-loved pizza in the form of Donatos, a machine called the Peppamatic through the Grote Company, and now, a new place for food innovation.

The EDGE Innovation Hub celebrated its grand opening April 30 at 1140 Gahanna Pwky.

Hub is an apt name for the space that will bring together a variety of businesses large and small with a focus on what’s next in food and food technology.

Family patriarch Jim Grote’s eye for innovation gave rise to the creation of the space. He wanted to build a place where his own companies could excel, while also being a creative space for food innovators to come together.

The Hub contains offices and space for events. There’s an area for the Grote Company, which specializes in sandwich assembly, pizza topping and slicing machines, to demo their products. There’s also production space largely occupied by startup BeeHex.

A NASA spin off, BeeHex specializes in 3D food printing. The futuristic sounding technology has a number of applications, from an automated 3D decorator icing cakes and cookies, to personalized nutrition that can print the perfect food source based on an individual’s needs.

BeeHex is just one of the companies that could call the Hub home. Executive Director Craig Turner says they expect to add more startups in the space and fill the offices with a combination of new companies, existing companies, and internally created new ventures.

The Hub is next to Donatos HQ, frozen pizza offshoot Jane’s Dough Foods, and the Grote Company, and all have a presence at the Hub. Even though they are all on the same campus, it’s the first time the businesses have had a place to come together.

Turner says the first year at The Hub will really be about exploring and seeing where things take them. As the full potential of the space continues to be realized, the Hub has launched an event series to bring other food-based businesses into the space.

The third Friday of every month the Hub hosts EDGE Talks. Food entrepreneurs gather at the space to tell their stories and network with other industry professionals.

“Our goal is to inspire and connect,” Turner says.

The next EDGE Talk hosted on Friday, June 21 will feature Letha Pugh of Bake Me Happy and Anjan Contractor of BeeHex.

Turner says with the grand opening of the space they’ve heard from a variety of food-based businesses large and small, new and established. They’re helping where they can, which Turner says looks different for each business. It could be giving them a platform to share more about their operations at an EDGE Talk, or a more informal mentorship relationship.

Long-term the Hub’s innovation could extend outside the four walls of the building. Turner is excited about the prospects of an acre plot of land on the campus. The plan is to transform it into farmland and leverage it as a place for education around food literacy to help people understand where food really comes from.

For more information, visit edgeinnovationhub.com.