OSU

Oregon State University Advantage To Spur Education, Economic Growth

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OSU officials today launched a new initiative called Oregon State University Advantage, designed to boost the university’s impact on job creation and economic progress in Oregon and the nation.

“Oregon State University Advantage should foster increased bottom-line success for business,” said Rick Spinrad, OSU vice president for research.

“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,” Spinrad said.

Within the next five years, the program also is expected to increase industry investment in OSU research by 50 percent and lead to the creation of 20 new businesses. Hundreds more OSU students will work not only with existing companies, but become involved in every stage from fundamental science to business plans and running start-up companies.

Two key parts of Oregon State University Advantage will be the OSU Venture Accelerator and the Industry Partnering Program.

The Venture Accelerator will begin immediately with $380,000 in support from the OSU College of Business, Office for Commercialization and Corporate Development, and the University Venture Development Fund. It’s designed to identify innovation or research findings that might form the basis for profitable companies, and streamline their development with the legal, marketing, financial and mentoring needs that turn good ideas into real-world businesses.

The Industry Partnering Program will be co-directed by the OSU Foundation and the OSU Research Office. Officials say it will become a “one-stop shop” to help industry access talent; do research and development to aid business success; bring in millions of dollars in private investment in research; and ultimately produce the type of experienced graduates wanted by global industry.

“Many programs and people will be involved in all of these initiatives, but the broad theme is to increase the societal and economic impact of OSU,” said OSU President Ed Ray.

“This is a mission that’s critical to the future of Oregon and the nation,” Ray said. “Producing high-achieving graduates ready to work and create new businesses and jobs is the most important part. But we also see more that can be done in meeting the needs of existing industry, expanding existing business, creating new businesses and jobs, and getting students much more involved in their real working careers while they are still undergraduates.”

To serve as a base for the program, it’s anticipated that a 2,000-square-foot facility will be identified and occupied between OSU and downtown Corvallis later this year.

Various features of Oregon State University Advantage, the Venture Accelerator and the Industry Partnering Program include:

  • Expanded university research will be directed toward industry business needs, while providing opportunities for students, economic growth, patenting and licensing of new discoveries and inventions, and new companies.
  • Outside entrepreneurs and executives will work with faculty and students to evaluate new ideas, and the best ideas will be considered for proof-of-concept grants and equity investments.
  • At least 300 OSU students each year will work with Venture Accelerator projects, and more in the Industry Partnering Program, doing research, identifying markets, and creating business plans.

The end result should be improved educational programs and a major increase in the societal and economic impact of OSU’s research, already the largest in the state at $281 million a year.

“It’s a massive job to translate research into a profitable company,” said Ron Adams, executive associate vice president for research. “Students can help us analyze ideas, study market potential and do the legwork on so many tasks. There’s plenty of work to go around.”

Work of this type will greatly enhance educational opportunities, officials said.

“The students will have the opportunity to get practical experience working with the business community while helping drive the economy,” ” said Ilene Kleinsorge, dean of the OSU College of Business. “This experiential learning will prepare them to have an immediate impact to their employers when they graduate from the College of Business.”

OSU has been working in initiatives related to this for a decade or more, and has many success stories in commercialization, industry investment in research, and student internship programs. About 1,200 students are already involved in its entrepreneurship programs and more than two dozen companies have evolved from OSU research.

The Oregon State Venture Accelerator Program is a component of the South Willamette Valley Technology Business Accelerator, featured by the governor’s South Willamette Valley Solutions Group at the Oregon Business Plan Summit last December. The South Willamette Valley Regional Solutions Center will seek funding for the regional accelerator initiative during the 2013 Legislative session. At this stage, details remain to be determined.

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Albany Tribune

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