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OIC & OECDD, Innovation: Key to the future

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Sunday, October 01, 2006

Oregon is poised to make some vital public investments in our future. The State’s diverse investment in both established and emerging industries will create family-wage jobs in every corner of the state.  From productivity-enhancing projects to groundbreaking research, the work of the Oregon Innovation Council is giving Oregon the opportunity to:


+ become the first state in the nation to build a wave-energy generation industry.
+ enhance food-processing and manufacturing technology to help these backbone industries reach new international markets.
+ expand research in nanotechnology and bio-based products to make Oregon a leader in developing the renewable solutions that are in demand across the globe.


Although Oregon is one of only three or four states in the nation that count technology as their largest economic sector, innovation isn’t just about jobs in high tech.

At the 2006 Oregon Business Plan Summit, Harvard professor and world-renowned cluster industry expert Michael Porter argued that we can’t afford to make distinctions between “high-tech” industries and “low-tech” industries — every industry in Oregon can and must use technology and innovation to enhance their competitiveness.  

Why? In the 21st century, our biggest economic competitors no longer lie on the other sides of our state borders — they lie on the other side of the globe. Wages in countries like China and India are so low that Oregon businesses simply cannot afford to compete with them on the basis of cost alone. Oregon businesses can only stay competitive and continue to provide family-wage jobs by finding new ways to add value to their products.
SpaceCamp.jpg Indeed, companies in both traditional and emerging industries, in communities all across the state, are doing exactly that.

In partnership with the Oregon Economic and Community Development Department, this diverse investment portfolio will expand the marketplace and customer base for Oregon products and services. It will help Oregonians meet the challenge of competing in the global economy. And it is all centered around one key strategy: innovation.

For Oregon and for the nation, innovation is the critical factor for success in every sector of the 21st century economy. Keeping family-wage jobs requires the development of new technology and training our workers how to use it effectively.

The Oregon Innovation Council — Oregon InC — was created in 2005 by Gov. Ted Kulongoski and the Oregon Legislature to make recommendations for strategic investments that will capitalize on Oregon’s competitive advantages and stimulate the economy statewide. Oregon InC’s goal is to build public awareness of the importance of innovation and help businesses make valuable public and private connections to pursue innovation.

Oregon InC connects top-level leaders from Oregon’s university system, venture capital network, traded-sector industries and state government, providing the non-partisan leadership and structure at the statewide level to leverage public and private resources and drive the state’s innovation agenda forward.

State government doesn’t have the capacity to invest in more than a focused handful of initiatives in a given biennium. Oregon InC provides third-party expertise to help the state identify the smartest investments that will result in the greatest “bang for the buck” in terms of jobs for our residents and income for our state.


This document is the roadmap to guide public investment and regulatory changes that will stimulate the economy throughout Oregon. The full innovation plan is available on the Oregon InC website, www.oregoninc.org, but here are the key initiatives:

+ ONAMI continue investment in ONAMI, the state’s first signature research center (see sidebar).

+ WAVE ENERGY support development of nation’s first commercial-scale wave energy park, building on Oregon State University’s world-leading research on wave energy, the state’s manufacturing expertise and Oregon’s identification by the Electric Power Research Institute as the “ideal location for wave energy conversion.”


ONAMI, the Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute, is Oregon’s first signature research center. A cooperative venture among government and the world’s top nanoscience and microtechnology R&D institutions and industry in the Northwest, ONAMI was created to cultivate research and commercialization to advance Oregon’s leading economic sector and expand the benefits of technology innovation to traditional and natural resource industries.

Oregon’s leadership in the development and application of nanotechnology is enabled by some of the most creative minds in private industry, our universities, national laboratories, the investment community and state agencies collaborating to create a prosperous future.

Oregon is the proud home to the lead micro/nano R&D sites for Intel, Hewlett Packard, FEI Company and other world-leading industry leaders who drive the development of nano- and micro-tech products.  The world’s first 45-nanometer microprocessors with nanoscale transistors, printing inks with specially formulated nano-particles which allow digitally printed photos to stay bright for decades and the world’s first sub-Angstrom electron microscope are global “firsts” developed in Oregon.

ONAMI leverages these incredible industry assets with shared facilities and resources on three campuses — Portland State University, University of Oregon and Oregon State University. ONAMI connects equipment, research and entrepreneurial talent to facilitate world-class research that in turn creates new opportunities for Oregon to compete in the global market. 

The success of this collaborative endeavor has been dramatic. Even without counting the $8 million that President Bush recently allocated for ONAMI in his 2007 budget proposal, the state’s seed investment in ONAMI has enabled the center to book approximately $22 million in federal and private funding in the past year.

ONAMI has recently launched a new website, www.onami.us, which includes a new “ONAMIvores” section just for kids.

+ FOOD PROCESSING establish partnership between industry and the existing Food Innovation Center to assist food processors around the state in identifying innovative ways to expand markets, increase efficiency and pioneer developments in food packaging and processing.

+ MANUFACTURING enhance training and R&D resources in value-added manufacturing processes to ensure Oregon has a highly competitive manufacturing workforce that will stay competitive in the global economy.

+ BIO-ECONOMY create Oregon’s second signature research center, focused on research and development in clean energy, bio-based products and green building. The center will build on Oregon’s existing international reputation as a leader in renewable energy, leverage ONAMI technology platforms and bolster Oregon’s rural economy by creating new value-added products from forests and agricultural land.

+ DRUG DEVELOPMENT launch transitional research center to develop and commercialize new drugs to fight infectious diseases.

Each of these initiatives was developed by the council over the course of nearly a year. With the assistance of technical advisers from universities and industry leaders, Oregon InC committees evaluated and prioritized the state’s top opportunities to generate jobs and income in the short (1-3 year) and long (5-10 year) timeframe through investments in university research and public partnerships with both established and emerging industries.

Ultimately, the work of Oregon InC is about ensuring that Oregon capitalizes on our greatest competitive opportunities — and we have some great assets to work with.

Our strategic location on the Pacific Rim, our partnership with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, our cutting-edge research in renewable energies, and micro- and nanotechnologies, our abundant natural resources, and our innovative lifestyle are competitive advantages that will be difficult for others to copy.

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