The ONAMI Model
ONAMI’s operating model, under continuous development since 2002, recognizes that, just as in the business world since the early 1980s, no single institution has all the human and infrastructure resources to sustain both technically competitiveness and the ability to respond in real time to emerging opportunities. This is particularly true in small or geographically sparse states and regions, and presents a severe challenge to future prosperity when combined with accelerating shift toward innovation-dependent traded sector industries and the high-wage job opportunities that everyone wants.
The answer to this conundrum is to combine the usual three-part technology-based economic development (TBED) investment formula (research, business and capital formation and workforce development) with newer and more effective models for collaboration among multiple institutions, business and industry, early stage investors, and both state and federal government agencies.
ONAMI invests state economic development funds (administered by the Oregon Innovation Council in four ways:
- Growth in research capacity and competitiveness. We provide (via competitive application) matching funds for federal and private collaborative research proposals led by ONAMI member PIs. These funds both augment funded projects and enable capacity investments to grow the most promising research groups and capabilities. In all of this, we actively work at building competitive collaborative teams for both discovery-based science and commercialization activities.
- The ONAMI “high tech extension” service connects the NWNanoNet™ collection of shared/open user facilities to industry—now over 150 companies of all sizes – on a user friendly fee-for-service basis. We do this in close partnership with Business Oregon -our award winning state business development department. These university-based facilities are a critical resource for access to advanced and unique fabrication, measurement and characterization tools that are essential to, but outside the purchase reach of, all but the largest companies. In selected cases, our facilities provide leased tenant space to collaborating companies.
- ONAMI’s commercialization gap fund provides critical support to early stage technologies and companies arising from ONAMI members’ research and NWNanoNet™ user companies. In our experience ($70M in leveraged company funding as of 2010), the “valley of death” contains not one, but two gaps: between research result and manufacturable product, and between technology push and market pull. We accordingly provide both project funding and business development services.
- Although we are not an events organization, we do hold periodic conferences and seminars in support of the above activities. Most notable is our Greener Nano conference series, produced annually by our Safer Nanomaterials and Nanomanufacturing Initiative. We also sponsor and participate in selected local, state, national and international events related to nanoscience research, technology based economic development and early stage company investing.