Innovation in Sustainable Business Advocacy: Oregon BEST
By Gretchen Holzgang
David Kenney, executive director of Oregon BEST, keeps busy playing matchmaker between the business and educational sectors.
In advocating for sustainable business practices, one Oregon nonprofit took an old concept from the dating and marriage scene and applied it in an innovative way to business and research.
Since it was established in 2007, Oregon BEST’s three-person operation has been busy playing matchmaker between university researchers, industry leaders and entrepreneurs in order to drive the commercialization of new technologies and help Oregon’s green economy thrive.
“A lot of what we do is connecting people and knowing who people are,” said Oregon BEST Director David Kenney. “We have a strong network that crosses lots of existing networks.”
The reasoning behind all this matchmaking? The power of collaboration.
“It’s that marriage of ideas that drives significant change,” said Dennis Wilde, chair of the Oregon BEST board.
In its four years of existence, Oregon BEST has attracted more than $27 million in research funding from federal, industry, and foundation sources to Oregon.
Oregon BEST programs and resources include:
- A one-day networking event, Oregon BEST Fest.
- Seven shared-user research lab facilities and university based-labs companies, nonprofits and government agencies can use.
- University-based labs made available for companies
- The Sustainable Built Environmental Consortium, which was formally launched this past January. It is a regional group of organizations that work to commercialize sustainable technologies. Founding partners are CertainTeed/Saint-Gobain, Skanska USA, and the Oregon Museum of Science & Industry
The organization also awards grants to help fund research and technology that can translate into new clean-tech jobs.
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