Innovate Collaborate Oregon

In an effort to network, gain a competitive edge and get research and development partnerships, Oregon’s four largest public universities teamed up to launch the Innovate Collaborate Oregon Web site over the summer.

In an effort to network, gain a competitive edge and get research and development partnerships, Oregon’s four largest public universities teamed up to launch the Innovate Collaborate Oregon Web site over the summer.

The site,, works as a search engine that exclusively finds information from the research databases of Portland State, University of Oregon, Oregon State University and Oregon Health and Sciences University.

While the search engine brings up jargon-heavy pages of research being done by the universities’ faculty and students, the Web site itself also provides reader-friendly news updates to raise awareness about projects being done at the schools.

Dana Bostrom, director of innovation and industry alliances in Portland State’s Graduate Studies and Research department, explained how the collaboration works and some of the benefits of participating on the site.

Bostrom said that when someone in Oregon, the rest of the United States or even abroad has an idea or a project they would like to work on, they can search in a single location to find out who else has those same interests.

That manifests itself in local and national companies investing in research to be developed into technology at one of Oregon’s universities, she said.

It can also mean less legwork for faculty and students of other universities who are looking to share and exchange ideas, or even work together on a project, Bostrom explained.

“What it might do is give more awareness to the university’s research specialties,” she said. “We can find new collaborators, and it makes us more competitive for grants.”

Chuck Williams, director of technology transfer at University of Oregon, explained that contrary to the rivalry that exists between the schools during the football season, the institutions cooperate and work together when it comes to research and each have an unique specialty.

“We don’t have an engineering program here, so we’re always looking to reach out to OSU and PSU,” Williams said.

Each school has its own research specialty, Bostrom explained. University of Oregon excels in education, Oregon State in engineering and nanotechnology, OHSU in the biological sciences and medical field and Portland State in physics and chemistry.

Williams said that University of Oregon is ranked in the top three universities nationwide for its research in education, particularly for its evidence-based approach. It is also making strides in green chemistry.

Both Bostrom and Williams highlighted the new opportunities each university would have by both working together for research, and inviting companies in the private sector to invest in projects and turn ideas into products and technology.

“From our perspective, it’s a fabulous educational and networking tool,” Williams said. “We’ve already had a lot of interesting connections.”

The value of a statewide portal has been realized by other state university systems, such as the collaboration between schools in New Jersey and California.

“It’s hard to know if someone is interested until you put the information out there,” Williams said, emphasizing the benefits of networking and relationship building while collaborating on ideas, instead of keeping them private.

Having a one-stop shop that connects directly with the universities’ databases saves time for all involved, Bostrom said.

Portland State has already had three or four inquiries from groups and individuals who’ve used the site, and Oregon State has had quite a few as well.

Putting Portland State’s research out on the Web increases the awareness, and can put the university on the map in a variety of fields.

Bostrom explained her role, and the role of the directors at the three other schools.

“We say that our job is a contact sport,” she said, meaning that it’s all about networking and connections to developers, researchers and firms.

Williams expressed similar sentiments about innovation, human connections and networking. The Web site doesn’t just provide facts, figures and data, but uses intellectual property rights as something to trade.

Relationships between people facilitate those trades and the flow of ideas.

“It’s Oregonian in its nature,” Williams said. “It’s people-based, not always what’s patentable or profitable.”
Oregon State and OHSU were unavailable for comment as of press time.