OSU strengthens connections with the private sector

| Print |  Email
The Latest
Wednesday, January 19, 2011

By Corey Paul

Oregon State University changed the name of its Office of Technology Transfer on Monday, a seemingly minor step but one university officials call a major shift in philosophy that could also prove lucrative. The new Office for Commercialization and Corporate Development will take a more proactive approach in finding and selling research projects.

Better connecting higher education and research to the private sector is a huge issue for Oregon, commonly considered a shortcoming when comparing the state with Washington or California.

The shift at OSU leads to two new full-time positions and one part-time position. The department filled one of those full-time positions with the hiring of Dan Whitaker, who has started more than 16 companies, including Rogue Wave Software, Centralia Sawmill Company and Hotdata, all of which became publicly traded companies or sales to large interests. Whitaker will roam the university acting like an independent consultant for new business creation. The unfilled positions are for licensing associates that will help the microproducts and life sciences departments launch innovation into the marketplace.

Partly explaining OSU's new approach is the growth the school saw in its research portfolio as well as an increasing number of faculty innovations moving into the marketplace. In the last decade, annual research funding doubled from $138 million to $275 million by last year.
The university also has generated more spin-off companies that have landed venture capital. One of those, Home Dialysis Plus, landed $50 million in the first half of 2010.

Relationships differ, but most of the OSU spinoff companies financially benefit the university through an arrangement such as partial ownership or a licensing agreement, said OSU Spokesperson Todd Simmons. The innovators, of course, profit too.

Brian Wall, director of the department, wants more investment in the future toward the OSU Development Fund, a sort of gap fund that targets projects with other investment to pay for developments such as a prototype and make innovations seem less risky to larger investors. Wall also hopes to hire more staff to focus on building connections between other specific departments and the private sector.

The way Wall sees it, more startups mean more investment, which means job creation, higher incomes and new tax revenue.

"In my mind it's critical for state universities to help fill this role, especially with the economy where it is now," Wall said. "We could do a lot of good."

Corey Paul is an associate writer for Oregon Business.

 

More Articles

The Private 150: From Strength to Strength

July/August 2015
Monday, July 13, 2015
BY KIM MOORE

Revenues in Oregon's private, for profit sector maintained solid growth as the economy continued to rebound.


Read more...

5 stats about Oregon fireworks

The Latest
Thursday, June 18, 2015
fireworksthumb001BY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Fireworks are a booming industry, even if the pyrotechnics have turned July 4th into a day fire marshals, and many residents, love to hate.


Read more...

Brain Storm

July/August 2015
Monday, July 13, 2015
BY CAMILLE GRIGSBY-ROCCA

Can the brave new world of neurotechnology help an OHSU surgeon find a cure for obesity?


Read more...

Farm in a Box

July/August 2015
Friday, July 10, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER

Most of the food Americans consume is trucked in from hundreds of miles away. Eric Wilson, co-founder and CEO of Gro-volution, wants to change that. So this past spring, the Air Force veteran and former greenhouse manager started work on an alternative farming system he claims is more efficient than conventional agriculture, and also shortens the distance between the consumer and the farm.


Read more...

Reader Input: Road Work

March 2015
Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Oregon's roads are crumbling, and revenues from state and local gas taxes are not sufficient to pay for improvements. We asked readers if the private sector should help fund transportation maintenance and repairs. Research partner CFM Strategic Communications conducted the poll of 366 readers in February.

0315 input01 620px

 

Reader comments:

"I feel private enterprises are capable of operating at a higher efficiency than state government."

"This has been used in Oregon since the mid-1800s. It is not a new financing method. This form of financing may help Oregon close its infrastructure deficit by leveraging funds."


Read more...

Business partnerships: taming the three-headed monster

Contributed Blogs
Monday, July 06, 2015
070615-businessmarriagefail-thumbBY KATHERINE HEEKIN | OB GUEST COLUMNIST

Picking a business partner is not much different than choosing a spouse or life partner, and the business break-up can be as heart-wrenching and costly as divorce.


Read more...

Urban renewer

Linda Baker
Wednesday, June 24, 2015
UnknownBY LINDA BAKER   

One year after he was appointed chair of the Portland Development Commission, Tom Kelly talks about PDC's longevity, Neil Kelly's comeback and his new role as Portlandia's landlord.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS