Ohio has taken another step toward awarding $20 million in grants in hopes of transforming ideas into technology to combat opioid addiction and overdose deaths.

The Ohio Third Frontier Commission Tuesday chose NineSigma of Cleveland to manage a competition to award about $7 million in grants to develop ideas largely aimed at preventing prescription overdoses, treating addiction and producing alternatives to opioids in the treatment of pain.

Gov. John Kasich called during his State of the State speech for awarding $20 million from a voter-approved bond fund to bring technology to bear against the opioid crisis responsible for the vast majority of Ohio’s more than 4,100 drug-overdose deaths last year. That figure again may lead the nation.

The formal process for submitting ideas and seeking seed funding to propel them along will begin in coming months through NineSigma, which is seeking a contract worth about $1 million, said Third Frontier spokeswoman Lisa Colbert.

Meanwhile, more than 40 universities, hospitals, medical companies and others have submitted letters of intent in hopes of capturing a share of the remaining $12 million in grants to commercialize their proposals nearing completion. Third-party evaluators are expected to recommend in December which proposals should receive funding.

Ohio State University is requesting $315,000 to to produce a web-based opioid addiction referral and intervention tool for health care services.

Other proposals seek funds to produce wearable monitors to detect opioid use and to further develop new painkillers not derived from opioids and to manufacture technology that relieves pain without drugs. The Cleveland Clinic seeks $750,000 to bring to market a temporary implantable device that would block pain.

Benjamin Bring, a Dublin osteopath, is requesting $75,000 to develop a special massage therapy glove to relieve chronic muscle pain.

“The opioid crisis is touching everyone and we all need to be part of the solution,” said David Goodman, director of the Ohio Development Services Agency and chairman of the Third Frontier Commission. “Taking ideas and advancing technology is one more way to ensure we leave no stone unturned in the fight against addiction.”

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