On March 7, Kimberly Andrews Espy, UO vice president for research and innovation and dean of the graduate school and OSU Research Vice President Rick Spinrad offered testimony to the Oregon Senate Committee on Business and Transportation, chaired by State Senator Lee Beyer (D-Springfield) on a proposal to create a Regional Accelerator and Innovation Network (R.A.I.N.) for the South Willamette valley. They were joined on a panel by OUS Chancellor Melody Rose, who presented a package of innovation proposals that includes the IT Collaboratory, R.A.I.N., and the Metals Initiative. The officials sought funds and program authority to enact the projects.
The R.A.I.N. proposal is the product of a collaborative Regional Solutions process initiated by the Governor that brought industry, government, and education leaders together to address an important gap in the innovation economy in Oregon. Espy and Spinrad are university representatives to the area Regional Solutions Committee.
As planned, R.A.I.N. will provide start-up ventures with the human resources and infrastructure they need to succeed. In addition to providing staffing resources, R.A.I.N. proposes repurposing facilities near existing university research facilities. These mixed-use facilities will combine business and programmatic space, with linkages through shared IT and community-based resources, to create one seamless ecosystem for innovation. More about the proposal can be found in Espy and Spinrad’s testimony.
Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy, Corvallis Mayor Julie Manning, Albany City Manager Wes Hare, Perpetua Power’s Nick Fowler, tech entrepreneur Dan Whitaker, and Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce CEO Dave Hauser joined Espy and Spinrad in offering testimony to the panel in favor of R.A.I.N. Lane County and PeaceHealth submitted written testimony in support of the plan.
Written testimony and a full audio recording of the hearing can be found on the committee’s website.