The Oregon Translational Research and Development Institute, better known as OTRADI, got off the ground in 2008 with a mission to commercialize research coming out of labs around the state.
To further that goal, OTRADI launched the state’s first and only bioscience incubator on Portland’s South Waterfront in 2013.
On Tuesday, OTRADI hosted a cruise on the Portland Spirit, attended by 250 people, to commemorate the 10-year anniversary of OTRADI and the five-year anniversary of the incubator, called OBI.
Among the leaders on hand to congratulate the institute and executive director, Jennifer Fox, were U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, a Beaverton Democrat; state Rep. David Gomberg, a Democrat from the Central Coast; and Erin Flynn, board chair of the Oregon Innovation Council and the founding board chair of the Portland Innovation Quadrant.
Flynn noted that the state has realized a “remarkable” return — $706 million from OTRADI and OBI companies — on its investment of $1.25 million a year in the incubator. OBI, which features shared wet lab and public space, added a Digital Health IT Annex this year and provides mentorship and entrepreneurial training programs.
Oregon’s only bioscience-focused startup business incubator, providing labs, offices, shared scientific equipment and mentoring for bioscience and digital health startups
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“Our biggest contribution is definitely the incubator, having a physical home that is really the heart of the bioscience community,” Fox said.
Because of the success of OBI, which is geared to startups, a larger “Innovation Quadrant” is taking shape on Portland’s central east side, Flynn said. It spans both sides of the Willamette River between the Burnside and Ross Island bridges and encompasses the South Waterfront, OMSI, Oregon Health & Science University and other public institutions and private businesses.
Summit Development Group is developing two buildings with offices and lab space, one on Southeast Alder Street, the other on Southeast Stark Street, for bioscience companies that have outgrown their space at OBI or elsewhere. Until now, there were few options for mid-sized biotech tenants.
“The Innovation Quadrant wouldn’t be happening today if not for Jennifer Fox and OBI,” Flynn said, adding that the incubator was a “proof point” for the viability of the bioscience industry in Oregon.
Fox said she doesn’t foresee OBI expanding further in Portland over the next decade, but it could open more outposts across the state, including at OSU Cascades in Bend.
“I want to help people in their own communities stay there,” she said. “There’s no reason everyone has to come to Portland.”
OTRADI Bioscience Incubator