July 13, 2000 

Contact: Bob Bruce, 503-725-5714
Source: Diane Vines, 503-725-5700

Report Urges New Efforts to Spur Oregon's Knowledge Economy

PORTLAND - Oregon needs to continue closer collaboration between business and higher education to build its knowledge economy, create high quality jobs and wealth, and promote a statewide growth from within strategy, says a new report created for Governor John Kitzhaber.

The report, titled "Building the Bonds of a Knowledge Economy," comes from the Economic Development Joint Boards Working Group (EDJBWG), a task force organized by the governor in 1999 to study ways of adding to Oregon's economic development by better using the state's intellectual resources.

Members of EDJBWG include Jose Campos, Oregon Economic and Community Development Commission, Portland; Bert Glandon, president, Treasure Valley Community College, Ontario; Donnie Griffin, chair, State Board of Education; Don Krahmer, Black Helterline, LLP, Portland; Lesley Hallick, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Oregon Health Sciences University; Tom Imeson, past president, State Board of Higher Education, Portland; Jill Kirk, board member, State Board of Education, Portland; Catherine Mater, Vice President, Mater Engineering, Ltd., Corvallis; Gail McAllister, Burns; Jerome Pool, Pacific University trustee, Forest Grove; Joan Smith, Lewis and Clark College trustee, Salem; Don VanLuvanee, president, State Board of Higher Education, Portland; Brett Wilcox, chair, Oregon Economic and Community Development Commission, The Dalles; and Jim Willis, State Board of Higher Education, Salem. 

The report recommends the creation of an Oregon Council for Knowledge and Economic Development to bring more consistent direction to the state's joint business-higher education efforts. It also proposes a future constitutional change to increase technology transfer, the creation of a higher education technology transfer fund to assist public and private colleges in commercializing their ideas, and recommends a series of best practices, strategies and new services to help Oregon business benefit from the expertise of the state's academic community.

"Over the past decade, two institutions important to Oregon's economic well-being - higher education and business - have been on parallel journeys," the report observes. "The birth of a 'knowledge economy' has caused each to change. While they have become more nimble and responsive to citizens and customers, they have changed largely independent of each other.

"Oregon…will benefit by knitting higher education and business more closely together."

One way to do that, the report says, is to establish a permanent council to advise the governor, the Legislature, the Economic and Community Development Commission and the respective state boards of education on issues and ways to promote knowledge-based economic development. 

The report urges that the council, appointed by the governor, be charged with focusing on ways to increase high-quality research, technology and knowledge transfer by developing successful models and helping to commercialize new technology developed by higher education.

It suggests removing a constitutional barrier that EDJBWG says disadvantages the state in its efforts to increase the commercialization of technology. The barrier prohibits Oregon public colleges and universities from holding stock in the private companies that bring their ideas into the marketplace.

"Nearly half of all states now allow academic institutions to hold stock in companies that commercialize campus-originated technology, a fact that puts Oregon at a competitive disadvantage," the report says. "Oregon's constitutional prohibition is an impediment to increased commercialization. 

"Allowing campuses to profit from their knowledge investments would help fund future research. It would attract more research dollars as well as students and faculty who want to work in a dynamic and collaborative environment."

The report advocates creating a statutory fund devoted exclusively to encouraging technology transfer from Oregon's colleges and universities. And, in the event the existing constitutional barrier cannot be removed, it suggests establishing a new account under Oregon's Educational Endowment Fund that could hold stock for the state's public colleges and universities.

The 33-page report also recommends that the state broadly share information on best practices and university-connected incubators, developed by EDJBWG with help from federal grant funds. It urges that Oregon expand a new statewide internship matching program; create a faculty fellowship matching program; showcase companies partnering with Oregon campuses at a "Higher Education Venture Day," and expand strategies for increasing Oregon's cooperation with national and private research laboratories.

A copy of the complete report is now available on the Oregon University System Web site at www.ous.edu/business.

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