Oregon has been on a mission to build its innovation economy since 2006, and with significant success. While significant changes to the status-quo have impacted industries around the world in recent years, the critical need for innovation and collaboration has never been clearer. With this pivotal timeline in mind, Oregon’s Futures Commission introduced the state’s 10-Year Innovation Plan early last year. The plan aims to encourage the creation of new businesses, support established businesses and entice companies from outside the state to locate within the state’s vibrant innovation clusters.
We recently caught up with Oregon Innovation Strategist Jordana Barclay about the state’s new innovation plan and how it will help grow advanced industry clusters across the state.
How would you describe Oregon as a place for innovative companies to do business?
JORDANA BARCLAY: Oregon is a great place for innovative companies to do business.We have an established, competitive high technology industry with strong research and development opportunities, a strong invention ecosystem, and a history of investment in innovation. As we move toward implementing Oregon’s 10-Year Innovation Plan, Oregon will become an even better place for innovative companies as additional resources and support become available. Oregon has strong innovation assets throughout the state, ranging from research centers to accelerators to angel capital funds. In 2019, we commissioned an Innovation & Entrepreneurship Benchmarking and Best Practices Study that found that Oregon is particularly strong in industry R&D, university active licenses, and the survival rates of startups.
What are some of the state’s biggest assets for a startup?
BARCLAY: Business Oregon funds three Signature Research Centers (SRCs) that focus on emerging industry sectors where Oregon has innate advantages and are potential high-growth sectors in the future. The SRCs provide a variety of technical assistance to innovation-based startups. The SBIR Support Program helps small businesses access federal non-dilutive, but very competitive, funding. The program has two types of grants to assist companies: application support grants and matching grants. The Commercialization Gap Fund provides investments to early-stage science and research-based companies as they further develop their product to be ready to go to market
Oregon has strong innovation assets throughout the state, ranging from research centers to accelerators to angel capital funds.
What are some of the key ways Oregon is driving innovation and entrepreneurship?
BARCLAY: By implementing the strategies and activities in the 10-Year Innovation Plan, we are increasing focus on innovation, positioning the economy around better-paying jobs with higher growth potential, helping the state weather future economic challenges, encouraging participation among populations presently underserved in the innovation economy, and positioning Oregon as a national and global leader in critical innovation sectors.
Implementing the 10-Year Innovation Plan via the Oregon Innovation Council and the Oregon Growth Board, in coordination with partners throughout the state, we are driving innovation and entrepreneurship. Our existing programs, such as the SBIR Match program and the Commercialization Gap Fund, support innovation and meet the specific needs of innovation-based entrepreneurs. New initiatives, such as establishing Centers of Innovation Excellence, Regional Innovation Hubs, and additional investment funds, will help us to continue to execute the strategies of the Innovation Plan.
Briefly describe the Oregon Innovation Plan and what that will accomplish over the next decade.
BARCLAY: Oregon’s 10-Year Innovation Plan is Business Oregon’s guiding document on innovation policy and roadmap to further develop the innovation ecosystem in Oregon. An innovation-based strategy is key to creating sustainable, high-wage jobs in all economic sectors of the state. Oregon’s Innovation Plan has four strategies:
Some examples of the metrics we will be tracking to determine if we’ve accomplished the Plan’s goals are increased median personal income, positive net migration flows of skilled talent, increased GDP relative to the nation within traded sectors and subsectors, increased productivity within traded sectors and subsectors, and increased industrial research funding per capita.