Innovate or get left behind.
The phrase may seem bold, but in the business world--and arguably the academic world--it’s never been more accurate.
It’s a good thing, then, that the UO Lundquist College of Business values creativity, originality, and innovation to such a degree that we’ve built entire programs around it.
One such program is our internationally recognized New Venture Championship (NVC). Earlier this month, fifteen graduate student teams from as near as California and as far as Singapore competed at the twenty-second annual event, held this year at the UO White Stag Block and Embassy Suites Hotel in Portland. It should be noted the White Stag has achieved gold status in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), so it’s fitting that competition advertisements were marked in “reverse graffiti”--using a power washer and stencil to temporarily brand the sidewalks nearby with the University of Oregon NVC logo and “What’s Your Venture?” tagline.
In an unusual--but not unprecedented--twist, we had two NVC winners this year, each taking home $17,500 in prize money. AGcerez, representing Thailand’s Sasin Graduate Institute of Business Administration, won over judges with its fruit syrup with helpful bacteria to aid digestion. The Awair team of Stanford University--which also won the newly named Randy Swangard elevator pitch award--presented the Wyshbone, a device that delivers local anesthetic to the throats of patients using breathing tubes.
Keynote speaker Scott Kveton, CEO of Urban Airship, inspired attendees as an especially illustrative example of a true innovator. During the NVC luncheon, Kveton explained his career trajectory: from selling bacon online to helping start his mobile relationship management company in just thirty days. Now, Urban Airship counts one billion (and growing) active installations, delivering highly targeted push notifications for popular apps.
Revolutionary tech startups like Urban Airship can be the key to economic development for entire regions. That’s why the Lundquist College community is also abuzz about a new potential opportunity to accelerate innovation.
UO president Michael Gottfredson and OSU president Edward Ray jointly have come out in support of the Regional Accelerator and Innovation Network or RAIN, an exciting new concept emphasizing cooperation and collaboration among the colleges, state and local leadership, and entrepreneurs. They recently outlined the benefits of such a long-term investment at the Economic Forecast 2013, sponsored by The Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce and The Register-Guard.
The partnership, which would come in the form of human resources and infrastructure, could bring about some 135 ventures during the next ten years. Those ventures could translate to 18,000 high-paying jobs. Research indicates it is small, new companies that create the most jobs.
A south Willamette Valley RAIN would require $12 million in state dollars to fund two state-of-the-art high-tech labs--one near each campus. These labs would help area entrepreneurs facilitate the transition from winning concept to thriving company. Helping to nurture sound ideas to market is already a cornerstone of the Lundquist College of Business. An accelerator would build the bridge from innovation to action. With the establishment of the Business Innovation Institute, the Lundquist College is well positioned to be a major player in the proposed regional network.
The new Oregon RAIN plan has won the support of local and state officials, including Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy and Governor John Kitzhaber, and it is currently under consideration at the state legislative level.
Join us in becoming part of the innovation solution.
Cornelis A. "Kees" de Kluyver
Dean and James and Shirley Rippey Distinguished Professor