Imagine purifying drinking water using non-polluting nanomaterials and two hours of sunlight. Or, a portable kidney dialysis machine the size of a small bag. Or, a chemical-free battery that runs for 15 years.
Those aren't dreams - they're the latest products created by local companies and made possible by the Oregon Innovation Council, a unique public/private partnership that's bringing Oregon's leading private sector entrepreneurs and public sector university researchers together to develop a more diverse economy and the good-paying jobs that come with it.
Oregon InC achieves this by opening doors to our state's best research and facilities while creating a path for early stage funding to help entrepreneurs navigate the journey from great idea to marketable product.
It also focuses on building new industry clusters in areas where the state is already a national leader, like nanoscience, green building techniques, clean energy and bioscience.
The results have been nothing short of remarkable.
In just four years, Oregon InC has helped to create and retain more than 1,000 jobs and incubate 15 new companies. It has also helped raise more than $91 million in outside capital and more than $250 million in research funding. And, it's achieved these results with incredible efficiency, returning more than $7 for every dollar the Legislature has invested.
I'm an ex-officio member of Oregon InC - one of four legislators appointed to oversee the taxpayers' investment. I serve on its Audit and Accountability Committee, which meets quarterly to make sure all of its initiatives are on track. My work at Oregon InC has convinced me this program works.
It's helped to diversify our economy. It puts people to work. It recognizes the exceptional talent living in Oregon, and invests our dollars where it can do the most good.
During what was certainly the toughest legislative session in many years, I'm especially grateful for Gov. Kitzhaber's support of Oregon InC and for the Legislature's recognition of the value of Oregon InC. The $16 million funding of Oregon InC approved by the Legislature last month will make sure the good work continues.
I'm confident that our investment in Oregon InC will keep us focused on our goals: supporting entrepreneurs, creating jobs and keeping Oregon competitive today and for the long run.
Find more information at www.oregon4biz.com/Innovation-in-Oregon/ .
State Rep. Tobias Read, D-Beaverton, represents Washington County's District 27. Soapboxes are guest opinions from our readers, and anyone is welcome to write one.