Entrepreneurs in the South Willamette Valley region received exciting news this July, when the Oregon State Legislature approved $3.75 million in funding for a project known as the Regional Accelerator and Innovation Network (RAIN).
RAIN is the fruit of a visionary coalition that includes local and state governments, Oregon State University, the University of Oregon, and the region's business community, among others.
The project will create two business accelerator facilities—one in Eugene and the other in Corvallis--that will house and support local startup ventures.
Here at the Lundquist College, we look forward to years of mutually beneficial collaboration between RAIN startups and our students and faculty.
Among those closely tracking RAIN's progress is Nathan Lillegard, program manager of the college's Lundquist Center for Entrepreneurship.
Lillegard's interest is both personal and professional. In 2006, after graduating from the Oregon MBA program, Lillegard cofounded Floragenex, a successful Eugene-based tech company that specializes in genomic analysis.
He first got acquainted with the technology behind Floragenex while serving as a fellow in the University of Oregon's Technology Entrepreneurship Program during his MBA days.
Actively committed to growing Eugene's startup community, Lillegard is also the cofounder of SmartUps, a local entrepreneurial support organization.
"Over the last six years, I’ve watched the Eugene-Springfield area’s startup community emerge and organize as a real asset for our local economy," Lillegard wrote in an opinion piece in The Register Guard. "What once felt like an abstract idea—that Eugene would feel like a great place to start a company—is beginning to be the reality."