Collaboration fuels Oregon's innovation ecosystem
By Don Gerhart
University of Oregon
Don Gerhart is associate vice president for research and innovation at the University of Oregon.
During times like these, it’s good to remember that strengthening Oregon’s economy is a team effort that involves all of us.
Over the course of the last decade, Oregon began to achieve national recognition for its exceptional ability to foster collaboration at the demanding interface of innovation and entrepreneurship. Entrepreneur magazine, in a 2009 feature on the nation’s leading cities for new venture formation, dubbed Portland “The Cooperator” and summed up Oregon’s collaborative spirit with a quote from venture capitalist Gerry Langeler: “Portland and Oregon are the only places I’ve seen where constituency groups that normally fight come together.”
We owe Oregon’s growing reputation for collaborative innovation to the sustained effort of a host of committed, savvy leaders such as Carolyn Chambers, who died Aug. 8.
Carolyn’s advocacy and philanthropy led to the establishment in 1994 of the Center for Law and Entrepreneurship within the University of Oregon School of Law. Events took an unexpected turn in early 2002, when, with Carolyn’s full support and endorsement, the center embarked on a unique collaboration with the UO’s Charles H. Lundquist Center for Entrepreneurship, the UO Office of Research, Innovation, and Graduate Education, and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. The resulting partnership—the Technology Entrepreneurship Fellows Program — known as TEP for short — is a unique interdisciplinary laboratory that generates our most precious resource: human capital.
TEP’s mission is to train and energize the next generation of entrepreneurial business leaders. Over the course of the last nine years, TEP has provided scores of post-graduate students in business, law, engineering, humanities, and the sciences with experience-based learning focused on a real-world challenge: transforming research into new, innovation-based enterprises.
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