Advantage for Business

Oregon State creates "one stop shop" for businesses to access market-driven research, skilled workforce

OSU officials have 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.

Meena (left) and Jaana Rajachidambaram, masters students at OSU, worked in collaboration with Sharp Laboratories of America to improve the performance of thin-film transistors used in liquid crystal displays. Such research will expand with the new Oregon State University Advantage program. (Photo: Jim Carroll))

Meena (left) and Jaana Rajachidambaram, masters students at OSU, worked in collaboration with Sharp Laboratories of America to improve the performance of thin-film transistors used in liquid crystal displays. Such research will expand with the new Oregon State University Advantage program. (Photo: Jim Carroll))

“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.

Richard Oleksak, a doctoral student at OSU, developed a continuous-flow microwave reactor to synthesize nanoparticles for low-cost solar cell manufacturing. His research was sponsored by Voxtel, Inc., and is the type of work that will increase at the university with launching of Oregon State University Advantage. (Photo: Jim Carroll)

Richard Oleksak, a doctoral student at OSU, developed a continuous-flow microwave reactor to synthesize nanoparticles for low-cost solar cell manufacturing. His research was sponsored by Voxtel, Inc., and is the type of work that will increase at the university with launching of Oregon State University Advantage. (Photo: Jim Carroll)

“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.

More information is available at Oregon State University Advantage.

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For other stories about Oregon State partnerships with business:

  1. Behind the Screens, new materials for a sustainable economy
  2. Value-Added Scientist, go-to assistance for seafood producers
  3. New Corvallis microtechnology firm, new product for chemical manufacturers from the Microproducts Breakthrough Institute
  4. Running Clear, technology for real-time water-quality monitoring
  5. New OSU Spinoff company, biosurfactants for cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and other industries
  6. Testing our Metal, process testing and product development for Oregon’s metal products industry
  7. The Science of Design, research for product development in the outdoor apparel industry
  8. Biotech Partnership, gene technology for plant development
  9. Cradle of Innovation, Oregon State’s Office of Commercialization and Corporate Development
  10. Spinoffs Boost Oregon’s Economy, new companies emerge from Oregon State research labs
  11. From Problem to Profit, seeds for new products in the proliferation of western juniper
  12. Trading on Trust, business development, face-to-face
  13. Product Lines, 12 companies, 300 jobs, $100 million in investment

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