Since the early 2000s, Oregon has seen its biotechnology scene explode and it continues to grow exponentially. The Oregon Bioscience scene grew over 32% between 2002 and 2007. Today, Oregon is home to over 600 private biotech companies and research institutions with a total economic impact of over $6 billion and 37,000 jobs. In particular, Portland, Bend and Eugene have seen the collaboration between Oregon universities and their collaborators such as the Oregon Translational Research and Development Institute (OTRADI) and the Oregon Bioscience Association (OBA), rewarded by the evergrowing number of life science companies successfully launched and graduating from the initial startup phase. The largest industry subgroups in Oregon includes medical devices, sponsored life science research, diagnostics, research services and equipment, biotechnology and biological product manufacturing. In 2014, 673 grants were awarded to 42 firms, among which 43 SBIR and STTR grants.
In addition to money, mentoring and networking are necessary ingredients for moving bio startups forward. The Oregon bioscience community is actively tackling these key issues by multiplying networking opportunities to help bring together scientists, investors and business mentors in a friendly atmosphere. That spirit of collaboration allows Oregon to be competitive on the national market. In a collective approach to grow the bioscience landscape and further raise its profile among the global industry, OTRADI recently launched a $1 million fund campaign to fuel the institute’s priority initiatives. In 2015, they expanded the Oregon Bioscience Incubator (OBI) to 16,000 square feet to host 11 startups, and created OTRADI South, a learning lab in Corvallis at the Oregon State University’s College of Pharmacy. In Central Oregon, OTRADI is launching a BioMentoring program to spur more incubation, featuring more than 70 experts who kindly offered their time, as a complimentary gesture, to entrepreneurs in need of advice on topics ranging from finance and marketing to regulatory compliance and international expansion. In February 2016, OTRADI released their new interactive bioscience ecosystem map and directory, which includes a comprehensive database for the Oregon bioscience industry. Bend and Eugene are very entrepreneurial cities with an abundance of bioscience professionals in most market sectors and the bioscience industry is quite exceptional for towns this size. It is estimated that there are now as many as 700 bio jobs in Bend and many believe that number will only grow.
To support biotechnology companies and provide the extra training and resources for potential employees, OBA offers a free but competitive training program, which provides mid-career workers with professional certificates in areas of need such as “Quality Assurance”, “Medical Device Foundations” or “Big data in biomedicine”. March 2016, Investor Month in Oregon, featured an investor outreach event hosted by OTRADI to showcase OBI client companies, while OHSU presented its annual Startup Symposium for bio entrepreneurs to further showcase the latest technologies from our growing bioindustry. In addition, “Intellectual property” and “Company Valuation” topics drew record OBI Lunch & Learn turnouts in Portland.