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Plan Framed To Spur Bioscience Development In The South Waterfront

OHSU and the Portland Development Commission agree on steps to develop and market South Waterfront as a life sciences commercial center

Oregon Health & Science University and the Portland Development Commission have agreed on a five-year plan to facilitate development of a bioscience industry sector in the North Macadam urban renewal area (URA), also known as the South Waterfront district of Portland.

PDC will allocate $3.5 million of tax-increment funds under the agreement to joint OHSU-PDC initiatives aimed at capitalizing on the infrastructure already in place in the URA - roads, mass transit, sewers, power lines; developing affordable facilities for early-stage local bioscience companies there; raising the profile of the district as "a cutting-edge bioscience research, development and commercialization center" and helping transform it into a vibrant, sustainable mixed-use neighborhood that includes health and research facilities and world-class research leading to commercial development and a diversified job base.

The plan calls for OHSU and PDC to explore, among other initiatives, the development of a bioscience business accelerator/incubator facility in the URA, to begin implementing an already completed joint bioscience development, recruitment and marketing strategy, and to initiate with the Oregon Economic and Community Development Department a bioscience industry segmentation and cluster analysis. That strategy would include timelines for producing marketing and branding materials, dispatching OHSU, PDC and OECDD representatives to promote the South Waterfront at major national and international bioscience conferences and trade shows, and mounting trade missions to recruit bioscience businesses based elsewhere in the country to locate there.

"This agreement focuses on some of the infrastructure needs and support systems that startup companies need to mature and grow and to begin fulfilling the promise of an emergent commercial bioscience sector in the South Waterfront," said Arundeep Pradhan, director of the OHSU Office of Technology and Research Collaborations and OHSU's project manager for implementing the five-year plan. "The commercialization of bioscience discoveries is a long-term process. It does not occur overnight."

Colin Sears, Economic Development Manager at PDC who will oversee the bioscience program for PDC, said: "This plan strengthens our partnership and efforts to grow the bioscience industry. This document is a holistic strategic plan which focuses on growing existing businesses in the sector as well as recruitment of out-of-state bioscience companies who will benefit from synergies of locating in close proximity to OHSU."

Of the $3.5 million, $2 million is earmarked for improvements needed to assist in construction, augmentation and enhancement of bioscience facilities in the URA, which would include leveraging federal, state, local and private investments in initiatives such as the Oregon Translational Research and Drug Discovery Institute (OTRDDI), a proposed new state-supported Signature Research Center.

PDC has agreed to work independently with developers to promote development of mixed-use facilities and wet-lab space required by bioscience companies and to hire by August a site-selection consultant to evaluate the potential for attracting existing bioscience companies to the South Waterfront. PDC will be allocated $125,000 of the $3.5 million for those and other purposes and would also tap City of Portland general fund dollars that are made available to PDC's Economic Development Department for target industry efforts.

The remaining $1.375 million will go toward joint funding by OHSU and PDC of a program that focuses on bioscience industry development, industry research relations and recruitment. The program will be developed by the OHSU Office of Technology & Research Collaborations. The Oregon Bioscience Association, whose mission is promoting the growth and quality of the bioscience industry in the state, will be engaged to assist in these efforts.

The OECDD bioscience industry segmentation and cluster analysis is being undertaken to gauge the size and scope of the industry in the state, the better to connect with and optimize the strengths of existing Oregon bioscience companies, to expand the international trade opportunities of those companies, and to more effectively recruit companies to Oregon in order to grow and strengthen the industry in the state.

Four broad goals, outlined in the "TRC (Technology & Research Collaborations) Industry Relations Plan" were adopted as part of the PDC-OHSU intergovernmental agreement. The goals are:

Increase industry-faculty interactions, to permit sharing of ideas and brainstorming about opportunities for collaboration.

  • Create an effective partnership between OHSU and local and state agencies for the development of a bioscience industry.
  • Increase business community awareness of commercially viable technologies available at OHSU as well as other institutions.
  • Create and maintain mechanisms - such as the Innovation and Seed Fund - for the acceleration of bioscience-related technologies and companies in the North Macadam urban renewal area.

For more information about OHSU's technology transfer program, go to

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