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OSTP declares mission accomplished

After six years of harnessing innovative ideas to enhance business and technology opportunities in East County, the Gresham-based Oregon Science and Technology Partnership has called it a day.

Formed in 2001 as an industry-driven, public-private partnership of activists who collaborated to sustain emerging industries, the organization terminated its activity at the end of 2007. Citing a bevy of accomplishments and initiatives in the name of science, business and technology, the OSTP board concluded the organization had fulfilled its mission.

'I think it's a good thing,' said Hiroshi Morihara, OSTP chairman. 'I'm happy about it. We've accomplished a lot since 2001.'

Rather than be self-perpetuating, the OSTP was created to incubate concepts that would stimulate Oregon's economic and business climate in the long run.

'Our mission has always been to come up with an idea and nurture it,' he said. 'If it was successful, we send them off to the next person. We were not in the business of running anything. It's about time for us to close and let others take over.'

To that end, the board also voted to donate its remaining funds, earned through hosting conferences, toward development of university-level wave energy and biofuels courses.

The former concept refers to an OSTP initiative to investigate the potential of harnessing ocean waves off Oregon's coast to produce energy. Conferences held at the coast in 2006 and 2007 drew international attention and a research program at Oregon State University. Those developments spawned the Oregon Wave Energy Initiative and Oregon Wave Energy Trust.

'The Oregon Wave Energy Trust is now taking the wave energy idea and trying to make it a commercial success,' Morihara said.

OSTP's board and advisors comprised a variety of East County government, public utility and development officials. Through its 'Knowledge Connection,' the group brought together industrial, academic and government resources.

A successful example of this collaboration is the Pacific Defense Coalition, which works to draw defense dollars to Oregon business.

OSTP also played a role in identifying the Reynolds-Alcoa industrial site in Troutdale as prime for redevelopment. The site is now slated to house a relocated FedEx ground distribution center.

Despite the end of OSTP, Morihara will continue to work with new energy technology, particularly ethanol. He is working with Mt. Hood Community College to set up a small ethanol-based power plant on the back section of the campus. Rather than corn, it would utilize wood chips from poplar trees.

'Our hope is eventually we'll donate the lab to the college so they can have a curriculum for that kind of course,' he said.