Gov. John Kitzhaber, along with Oregon State University President Ed Ray and other OSU community members, toured the Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute (ONAMI) on May 25, to examine how innovative ideas are adding to Oregon’s economic recovery.
“It’s important to look at how Oregon is producing a new economy,” Kitzaber said. “We saw some of the technologies here, if we can figure out how to grow and commercialize those. Those are fundamental changes in our approach to energy management that weren’t even imaginable 10 years ago.”
ONAMI, Oregon’s first signature research center, has been attracting private sector investment and creating both new companies and high-wage jobs in Oregon since its establishment in 2003. The institute is a collaboration of OSU, Portland State University, the University of Oregon, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, the state of Oregon and the Pacific Northwest business community.
Research efforts vary in new technologies at the small nano- and micro-scale including sustainable solar cell manufacturing and development in advanced microfluidic systems. The institute is housed in Corvallis on Hewlett-Packard’s campus, and has provided countless research and employment opportunities for OSU students and graduates.
During the tour, Kitzhaber listened and discussed with members of ONAMI what the companies have been researching and implementing, including technologies in soil, biofuel, water, and home kidney dialysis.
Bill Byers, Vice President of CH2M Hill, showed the governor a new way to use electric fields to remove salt from water and discussed the development of approaches to provide affordable water for Oregon.
“This research creates jobs for engineers and scientists, and it uses the high-tech technologies to make the world a better place,” he said.
Companies working with ONAMI have raised more than $70 million for research projects to help dramatically grow research revenue in Oregon and accelerate commercialization of resulting technology.
Senior Program Manager of Pacific Northwest’s National Laboratory’s (PNNL) Energy and Efficiency Division Terry Hendricks shared how PNNL can commercialize new technology for healthcare, military security and reduce effects of generating energy.
“I’m proud to be a part of statewide job growth and economic development. Over time we have doubled our own staff because of all our activity,” Hendricks said.
Kitzhaber asked questions regarding when developments would be released for commercial production, and discussed the importance of finding ways to export the expertise and technology to the rest of the world.
For students who are looking to graduate and enter Oregon’s hard-hit economy, Kitzhaber said it was important to look to new opportunities, in particular employment created in clean energy and green jobs. Kitzhaber said he hopes Oregon can improve its energy efficiency, thereby lowering energy costs and freeing up money so that businesses can invest in hiring and the development of new jobs. The McCall lecture Kitzhaber delivered Wednesday night following his tour of ONAMI focused on those issues more in depth.
~ Makenzie Marineau