Why Is This Important?
At it’s heart, innovation is the ability to generate value by doing old things in new ways, or by doing entirely new things. Innovation is the new “currency of competition” for industry and government. Innovation inspires workers and customers, makes business more competitive and creates new and better jobs.
The Oregon Business Plan Vision for Economic Innovation
We need to create new, high-quality jobs in Oregon communities, cultivating a stronger research base capable of enabling innovation, increasing the availability of seed capital for Oregon entrepreneurs, increasing high-value exports, and making innovation the job of every Oregonian. Oregon must cultivate its reputation as a global leader in emerging industries including nanoscience, renewable energy, and bio-based products and sustainable technologies. Further, we must invest in future opportunities that will enable us to emerge from the economic downturn more diversified and in a stronger position to remain a national leader in the innovation economy.
Where We Stand Today
Through the efforts of the Oregon Innovation Council and the Oregon Innovation Plan, Oregon has improved its climate for economic innovation. Since 2003, Oregon has launched three signature research centers focused on nanotechnology, clean technology and bioscience. We have sewn the seeds for emerging wave energy and electric vehicle industries in Oregon and we have advanced initiatives to make our seafood and food processing industries more globally competitive. Oregon has launched a University Venture Development Fund, expanded the scope of the Oregon Growth Account, and taken some steps to streamline technology transfer.
However, major inpediments to innovation exist in Oregon. Poor access to some types of investment capital, the lack of top managerial talent, and continued disinvestment in higher education put Oregon’s innovation economy at risk.
The Oregon Business Plan Strategy
Building and maintaining a top-tier innovation economy will require Oregon to do several things, including:
- Successfully compete for private and federal investment.
- Generate new companies and jobs based on university R&D.
- Identify and make strategic investments in emerging opportunities where Oregon has a competitive advantage.
- Address Oregon’s longstanding issues around lack of seed and venture capital, and help businesses who are struggling in an environment of tighter credit.
- Take a leadership role eliminating unecessary processes for technology transfer agreements.
- Create a supportive environment for Oregon’s entreprenurial class, including a tax structure that does not hinder progress (see public finance and budgeting initiatives).
- Recognize the long-term ROI of investments in higher education, R&D and other job-creating priorities as Oregon enters a decade of budget deficits (see education initiatives).
To continue expanding our state’s innovation-based economy, Oregon InC has proposed a 2013-15 Innovation Plan that consists of seven diverse initiatives, including:
- Oregon Wave Energy Trust (OWET): Recommended Funding: $2.5 Million
OWET-funded research and matching grants are attracting wave energy developers from around the world, speeding up the regulatory process, involving coastal residents and businesses in key decisions, and preparing the way for the launch of the first commercial buoy in Spring 2013.
- Drive Oregon: Recommended Funding: $2.25 Million
Drive Oregon is at the center of Oregon’s push to commercialize electric vehicle-related technologies, from batteries to motors, charging stations to electronic components.
- Unmanned Aerial Systems Center of Excellence: Recommended Funding: $2.5 Million
A new initiative which will create a research center and business incubator for the fast-growing unmanned aerial systems cluster, including a flight test site with proposed headquarters in Redmond/Bend area.
- Portland Incubator Experiment (PIE) & Oregon Film: Recommended Funding: $900,000
Building on Portland’s successful PIE Incubator, this new initiative will identify, recruit, capitalize, accelerate and promote early stage high-tech startups in the digital storytelling, video game, film and television industries.
- Oregon Nanoscience & Microtechnologies Institute (ONAMI): Recommended Funding: $6.1 Million
Oregon’s first Signature Research Center is now a nationally-recognized collection of laboratories and researchers, including the Lokey Labs in Eugene, with more than 20 advanced materials characterization and nanofabrication instruments; micro-level manufacturing and engineering research at the Microproducts Breakthrough Institute in Corvallis; and the Center for Electron Microscopy and Nanofabrication in Portland.
- Oregon Built Environment & Sustainable Technologies Center (BEST): Recommended Funding: $8 Million
With national priorities – and funding – focused on renewable energy and green buildings, Oregon BEST-supported research is leading to new technologies and products, and helping the building industry embrace green principles with R&D projects ranging from eco-districts to solar awnings; micro wind turbines to green roofs.
- Oregon Translational & Drug Discovery Institute (OTRADI): Recommended Funding: $1.7 Million
OTRADI and its new business accelerator is helping researchers and emerging biotech companies in areas as diverse as oncology, neuroscience, medical devices and infectious diseases with high-speed drug screening, analysis and mentoring.
Key Links and Documents
Innovation in Oregon: The website of the Oregon Innovation Council and Business Oregon.
Oregon’s Signature Research Centers: Learn more about the activities of ONAMI, OTRADI, Oregon BEST.
Innovate, Collaborate Oregon: A collaboration of Oregon’s research universities.
Help Shape This Initiative
Do you have ideas to improve Oregon’s capacity for economic innovation? Please share them with us below. Be sure to select “economic innovation” in the drop down menu.