Oregon’s Innovation Plan
Oregon’s Innovation Plan is built on the central premise that the continued vitality of Oregon’s economy and the state’s high quality of life rests on its ability to encourage innovation.
At a time when Oregon is faced with tremendous uncertainty driven in large part by a global pandemic, but also further complicated by political, natural, and socioeconomic challenges, there is an even greater need to focus on innovation-based economic growth. By coming together around a common issue — innovation — Oregon has an opportunity to improve the livelihoods of its citizens across the state. Developing a robust, inclusive innovation ecosystem is at the core of Oregon’s ability to achieve broad-based economic vitality. Innovation ecosystems consist of five interconnected elements, each of which plays a vital role in developing new value-added products and services that create strong economic impacts (Figure ES-1).
Supporting the elements of a robust, inclusive innovation ecosystem will drive economic development in Oregon in the coming decades.
While it is noted throughout the Innovation Plan that a robust innovation ecosystem will require dedicated efforts, ultimately, driving catalytic change in Oregon’s innovation economy will also require efforts to effectively address three critical dependencies to economic vitality (see Figure ES-2):
- Pervasive, affordable, and accessible high-quality digital infrastructure (broadband).
- A thriving talent base with inclusive and accessible pathways to cultivate human capital.
- A robust industry- and academic- research and development (R&D) enterprise that tackles our toughest problems
The Futures Commission, a public-private thought leadership group comprised of 31 members representing industry, academia, philanthropy, and government, engaged a wide range of innovation and entrepreneurship expertise over the course of its work with more than 125 stakeholders contributing to this strategic effort. Figure ES-3 illustrates the five-part process that informed the development of Oregon’s Innovation Plan.
It is important to note that Oregon currently has multiple efforts in place to support innovation across the state. Through its historic investments, Oregon’s state leadership has demonstrated an understanding that a vibrant and high-functioning innovation ecosystem is necessary for the state’s economy to reach its full potential. Even with these investments, however, Oregon faces significant challenges across a number of critical factors:
- The lack of a statewide entrepreneurial culture stymies the innovation ecosystem and represents a limiting factor to Oregon’s ability to scale companies.
- The agglomeration of national risk-capital markets is threatening Oregon’s ability to finance its deal flow.
- While levels of R&D are quite high, and commercialization is growing, more can be done to ensure the pipeline of deal flow is robust and “sticky” to the Oregon economy.
- The lack of “buzz” or image regarding Oregon as a desirable location for innovative companies and investment is hindering the development of the ecosystem.
These challenges, however, are not insurmountable and, with a renewed and re-oriented focus toward addressing these barriers, the state’s innovation ecosystem can thrive. In the pages that follow, Oregon’s Innovation Plan lays out a series of recommended bold strategies and concrete actions that if undertaken will help foster greater levels of economic prosperity for all Oregonians in the years to come.
OREGON’S 10-YEAR INNOVATION PLAN
If Oregon’s economy is going to prosper in the coming decades, it must ensure its competitive position through four means:
- Oregon must have traded sector industries that constantly innovate, not only the products that they make but also the technological processes that they use to make them.
- Oregon must foster a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem that ensures support services are available that address the continuum of needs from early-stage startups to scalable enterprises.
- Oregon must have financial capital markets receptive and prone to investing in innovative firms and entrepreneurs that are developing and applying cutting-edge technologies to products and processes.
- Oregon must promote itself as a place to start and grow an innovative company.
Oregon’s 10-year innovation vision is captured in the following statement, which is both bold as well as realistic.
In 10 years, Oregon is globally known as a model for a diverse, inclusive, and resilient economy: a place where innovative people solve the greatest challenges of our times to create novel, sustainable products, processes, and companies that drive economic growth. To achieve this Vision, Oregon, serving as a steward for all its citizens, will support investments and policies through public-private-philanthropic partnerships that:
- Create and promote a diverse and inclusive innovation ecosystem that cultivates inventors, entrepreneurs, and leaders of innovation-driven enterprises.
- Intentionally ensure that historically underserved groups are fully integrated into the innovation ecosystem and have an equal opportunity to lead and prosper.
- Strengthen Oregon’s unique industrial and natural resources.
- Create an unparalleled quality of life by supporting citizens and businesses striving for economic, societal, and environmental resilience.
By achieving this 10-year innovation vision, Oregon will help ensure the state’s future economic vitality. Examples of anticipated economic and societal impacts that will be realized through the successful implementation of this 10-year Innovation Plan can be found in Figure ES-4.
Strengthening an innovation ecosystem does not happen on its own, but rather through a series of intentional, strategic, and proactive decisions. Oregon’s Innovation Plan has been designed to be driven by public-private partnerships that capitalize on Oregon’s comparative advantages while ensuring that future investments are focused on building the innovation, knowledge, and capital that will help ensure Oregon’s economic vitality for all people in all places (Figure ES-5).
It is proposed that Business Oregon and its strategic partners initiate a set of four strategies and an associated set of 10 actions to leverage and complement existing efforts while seeking to overcome existing innovation/entrepreneurial challenges and help catalyze long-term economic growth across the state (Figure ES-6). To guide investments, this Innovation Plan is intended to be both an actionable but amendable document, with a wide range of proposed short- and long-term actions to address gaps in Oregon’s innovation ecosystem.
The details regarding each strategy and subsequent action are outlined in the narrative that follows.