Innovative Lab2Market Initiative at PSU

December 04 2004

Portland, Ore. December 2, 2004 - Portland State University has received an award from the National Science Foundation’s Partnerships for Innovation (PFI) Program for the PSU-led proposal, “Oregon’s Lab- to-Market Initiative” (Lab2Market), the first PFI program awarded in the state of Oregon.

The three-year, $600,000 Lab2Market initiative will facilitate the commercialization of novel technologies and the creation of high-wage jobs by forging networks between private-sector business expertise and world-class research at Oregon’s universities. A venture mentoring component of the initiative will guide start-up companies and cultivate an environment that encourages university-based technology development and commercialization. At the end of three years, Lab2Market researchers plan to have launched 12 new technologies through licensing agreements or start-up ventures.

The program is supported by over 25 partners including business leaders across the region, Oregon Health & Science University, Oregon State University and the University of Oregon.

“This is an important first step in our program to make PSU a leader in technology development and commercialization,” said Marvin Kaiser, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the University sponsor of the proposal. “Since a main component of the project is to develop and strengthen partnerships between the other major research universities in Oregon, awarding of this grant to Portland State attests to the confidence the NSF has in PSU to lead this effort.”

The proposal was prepared by Melissa Appleyard, Ames Professor in the Management of Innovation and Technology in PSU’s School of Business Administration, along with College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) faculty members Steve Benight, professor of Chemistry and Physics, Erik Bodegom, professor and chair of the Department of Physics, and Dean Marvin Kaiser.

“Through the Lab2Market Initiative our goal is to foster innovation for a better future,” said Appleyard. “With our outstanding partners across the state and region, we will strengthen the networks linking world-class researchers and the private sector to help bring new technologies to market. The project will create new educational models for the innovation and commercialization process that ultimately will lead to job creation in the state.”

A two-pronged approach supports the Lab2Market initiative. The first is an educational component designed to teach university science and engineering researchers to begin to think more entrepreneurially. The educational program includes workshops on SBIR/STTR proposal preparation and intellectual-property management, followed by a short course based around business case studies. In order to extend the reach of the initiative to future scientists and engineers, a version of these case studies will be crafted for a diverse population of high school students and delivered through outreach programs affiliated with Portland State, such as Saturday Academy, MESA and Upward Bound/Project Plus.

“This grant will add an entirely new component to the education and training of science and business students. A familiarity with business practice and entrepreneurship in general is something science students rarely encounter,” said Eric Bodegom, professor of Physics. “This grant will provide us the opportunity to develop an integrated approach to the education of the next generation of technologists who will sustain our economic vitality.”

The second prong of the Lab2Market Initiative focuses on a venture-mentoring program, with mentor teams made up of Lab2Market partners and MBA students. These teams will mentor the innovators behind the 12 focal technologies to help them lay the groundwork for a successful launch. The 12 technologies will be selected through a competitive process.

“This grant provides the support to actively pursue and implement several new approaches being developed at PSU to stimulate technology development and commercialization,” said Steve Benight, professor of Chemistry and Physics. “The awarding of this grant validates the novelty and potential of our approaches at a national level.”

Partners include Portland State University (lead institution), Oregon Health & Science University, Oregon State University, University of Oregon, Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute (ONAMI), Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Oregon Association of Minority Entrepreneurs, Oregon Bioscience Association, Oregon Entrepreneurs Forum, American Electronics Association, ecoworks, IBM Healthcare & Life Sciences, Intellectual Assets, Northwest Technology Ventures, OVP Venture Partners, SmartForest Ventures, Davis Wright Tremaine, Stoel Rives, Welch Allyn, Portland Development Commission, Oregon Economic and Community Development Department, Oregon Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement, Saturday Academy and Upward Bound/Project PLUS.

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