UO, OSU push economic teamwork

2013-03-21T08:30:00Z UO, OSU push economic teamworkBy Bennett Hall, Corvallis Gazette-Times Corvallis Gazette Times

EUGENE — Oregon State University and the University of Oregon compete on everything from winning football games to recruiting students, but they can also work together to boost the state’s economy, the institutions’ presidents argued in a joint appearance Wednesday.
Speaking at an annual economic forecast at the Eugene Hilton Hotel and Conference Center, OSU’s Ed Ray and UO’s Michael Gottfredson noted that their universities separately create tens of thousands of jobs and pump hundreds of millions of dollars into Oregon’s economy each year.
They also attract millions of research dollars each year from the public and private sectors, sometimes duking it out for the same grants but increasingly teaming up in collaborative research initiatives such as the Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute.
The latest collaboration is an initiative called Oregon RAIN, which stands for Regional Accelerator and Innovation Network. The idea is to help both schools bootstrap technology-based startups by pooling resources such as incubator space, equipment and business expertise.
“People have been trying to convince me since I got here that rain is liquid sunshine, and I’m not buying it,” Ray told an audience of about 600 people at Economic Forecast 2013, sponsored by the Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce and the Register-Guard newspaper.
“But I’m thinking that this might actually be liquid sunshine in terms of the promise and the potential it contains.”
The program is still in its infancy, but Ray predicted it could spin out 135 startups and generate 18,000 jobs for the southern Willamette Valley over 10 years.
By working together, Gottfredson said, UO and OSU have a chance to replicate the success of other multi-institutional partnerships such as North Carolina’s Research Triangle.
“What do they have that we don’t have? They actually don’t have anything we don’t have,” he said.
All OSU and UO need to do is continue to develop the “connective tissue” that will allow the two schools to work seamlessly together to benefit the entire state.
With only a 40-mile drive between the two campuses, Gottfredson argued, UO and OSU should look for more ways to work together in an increasingly global economy.
“Ever more in the future we need to collect ourselves together over this very small distance,” Gottfredson said.
“This is not a distance that needs to bother us,” he added. “Actually, it’s a neighborhood.”

Reporter Bennett Hall can be contacted at 541-758-9529 or bennett.hall@gazettetimes.com.

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