The University of Oregon has signed on as a founding member of an innovation network that will connect scientists, entrepreneurs, and investors and bring research institutions, industry associations and other regional players together.
The Cascadia Venture Acceleration Network includes more than 50 organizations that that have pledged to work collaboratively in support of entrepreneurs and researchers across British Columbia, Washington and Oregon.
"We are excited about being able to offer soft landing space to our Cascadia colleagues and for our startups to be able to travel north and engage more broadly in our region,” said Chuck Williams, UO’s associate vice president for innovation. “Cascadia should be a hub for innovation, and we want to showcase the unique approach that we bring to societally relevant entrepreneurship."
The Cascadia Venture Acceleration Network will help startup companies with commercial-ready innovations secure funding; it will also redirect those with earlier-stage concepts to research institutions such as the UO. The organization will focus on networking and collaboration between innovators, identifying resources for entrepreneurs and connecting them to relevant resources across the region.
The network will also hold workshops, seminars and other educational and networking events. The UO and other network members have pledged to work collaboratively in support of entrepreneurs and researchers and will focus first on the life sciences, information technology and clean technology industries and will expand to other sectors in the future.
Williams pointed to ongoing efforts by the UO to make research tools more accessible to innovators. In 2016, the university released an updated version of Agilent Technologies’ VnmrJ software, used for magnetic resonance imaging and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, and made the software and its source code freely available to the international scientific community. The release of the software has helped advance collaborations in the region and beyond.
The Cascadia network supports an ongoing innovation partnership with Washington state and British Columbia that promotes development of a regional innovation zone known as the Cascadia Innovation Corridor. This year, the corridor was extended to include Oregon.
“We are looking forward to the many opportunities the Cascadia network will bring to entrepreneurs and startup companies in Cascadia,” Williams said. “The partnerships and relationships the UO will develop through the many members will help grow Eugene’s and Oregon’s burgeoning research and technology economy.”