New program aims to create more spinoffs, boost job growth
Oregon State University officials on Wednesday unveiled a new program that aims to boost the state’s economy by forging stronger ties between business and academia.
Dubbed the Oregon State University Advantage, the multipronged initiative expands OSU’s efforts to commercialize on-campus research, broadens connections with Oregon companies and builds on the work of other public-private collaborations such as the Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute.
“It will dramatically increase private industry access to talented OSU faculty and researchers, take better advantage of OSU’s unique capabilities, increase the number of spin-out companies, and expand education and job opportunities for students and other Oregonians,” said Rick Spinrad, the university’s vice president for research, in a written statement announcing the launch.
The program’s five-year goals include increasing the amount of private research investment by 50 percent, creating 20 new businesses and recruiting hundreds of OSU students to work with new and established companies.
Part of the plan involves the creation of the OSU Venture Accelerator, which is being kicked off with a $380,000 investment from the College of Business, OSU’s commercialization office and the University Venture Development Fund.
While the university has helped to launch about two dozen companies in the past 10 years, the Venture Accelerator will take a more comprehensive approach, according to Ron Adams, OSU’s executive associate vice president for research.
“What we discovered is we had a lot of the pieces in place, but we didn’t really have an organized process for going from an idea to a business,” Adams told the Gazette-Times. “In the vernacular of business, basically what we’re doing is we’re organizing a more focused business development operation around OSU research.”
The notion of an accelerator already has been endorsed by the Governor’s South Willamette Valley Regional Solutions Advisory Committee, which is seeking $12 million in state funding with matching funds from OSU and the University of Oregon. If that money comes through, Adams said, it would allow OSU to expand its business development efforts still further.
“To the extent that gets funded,” he said, “we’re thinking we’ll throw this open to the community so it’s not just an OSU thing.”
Another key element of the OSU Advantage will be the Industry Partnering Program, a joint effort of the OSU Foundation and OSU Research Office. It will act as a clearinghouse to match businesses with faculty expertise, university research and student labor to help evaluate ideas and bring new products to market.
At least 300 students a year are expected to work with Venture Accelerator projects, while others will work in the Industry Partnering Program to do research, identify potential markets and create business plans. The university is looking for a 2,000-square-foot building near downtown Corvallis to house the effort.
Contact reporter Bennett Hall at email@example.com or 541-758-9529.