Jobs Result from Research Centers' Work

Article excerpt

Byline: The Register-Guard

The Oregon Legislature created the Oregon Innovation Council, a private-public statewide advisory council, in 2005, and funded it two years later.

The council then set up three research centers by combining experts from the state's four research universities: The University of Oregon, Oregon State University, Portland State University and the Oregon Institute of Technology. One of the centers focuses on nanotechnology - the study of materials on an atomic and molecular scale - which includes the UO's Lorry Lokey Laboratories. Another focuses on drug development, and the third focuses on sustainable buildings and materials.

From an initial outlay of $42 million in lottery funds, the Oregon Innovation Council has leveraged about $200 million in federal research grants and funding from private businesses, said Ivo Trummer, global strategies manager for Business Oregon, the state economic development agency.

The council's initiatives were instrumental in helping create or maintain at least 1,000 jobs, he said. And they've helped about 15 start-ups, including Crystal Clear Technologies, Dune Sciences and Floragenex, which all have ties to the UO, said John Doussard, Business Oregon innovation strategist.

The three Oregon research centers recently received national attention, winning $1 million in the i6 Challenge, an innovation competition led by the U.S. Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration.

Oregon's research centers beat out contenders in the eight-state "Seattle" region, including the technology powerhouses of Washington and California.

"I applaud the members of the i6 Challenge award-winning team in Oregon state for their creative strategy to strengthen innovation infrastructure and advance economic development," said U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development John Fernandez.

"This unique collaboration of the state's three Signature Research Centers represents a compelling public and private partnership that will help to accelerate technology commercialization and enhance regional competitiveness."

The Oregon research centers plan to use some of the money for even further collaboration, creating "entrepreneur-in-residence" programs, which would team seasoned tech professionals with new entrepreneurs to identify and accelerate commercialization of research innovations. …