The Portland Business Journal recently highlighted how private investment in campus-based research is helping to incubate young companies and grow jobs.  Much of the piece was built around Oregon State University, which attracted $37 million in private investment last year as part of its effort to develop commercial applications for its ground-breaking research.  This is nearly a 50 percent increase since 2010.

This is the type of private sector / higher education collaboration that has built tremendous Research and Development centers in places like Boston, and it’s been a priority of Oregon’s for years.  It’s nice to see the effort starting to bear fruit.  And, it’s not necessarily new.  OSU’s partnership with Hewlett-Packard dates back to the 1970s.  But it’s really been a focus of President Ray’s, who told the Portland Business Journal, “It was clear we weren’t doing as much as our peer institutions. I asked our research department to be more aggressive. We needed more university-industry partnerships, not just university-state or university-government.”

NuScale Power, the small-scale nuclear firm that started at OSU, is the most prominent example of the success of this collaboration.  The firm recently received an additional $217 million matching grant from the U.S. Department of Energy and now employs 600 people.  Other collaboration includes research between D.R. Johnson Lumber and OSU into Cross-Laminated Timber products that will revolutionize commercial construction and bring new job opportunities to rural Oregon.

It’s this type of impact on innovation and employment that reminds us all about the importance of our research universities.  And, it’s why we all owe it to OSU to continue to champion it with our policymakers.