UO Research partners with Chamber for workshop on startups

SmartUps, the Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce’s entrepreneurial support group, took its show on the road to the UO recently, partnering with UO’s Research, Innovation & Graduate Education to offer a workshop specifically tailored to faculty members and graduate students/post docs.

About 20 interested researchers showed up for the inaugural program, dubbed UO Day One, held on Jan. 10-11.

“Present and future entrepreneurs came together from many disciplines at the University of Oregon to participate in this lively workshop,” said Chuck Williams, UO assistant vice president for innovation. “It was a great opportunity for them to learn what it takes to translate their research into a startup opportunity. I wouldn’t be surprised if these interactions result in new and exciting interdisciplinary projects.”

The event connected participants to the community’s entrepreneurs and economic development leaders, and provided an opportunity for researchers to network with others on campus to see what they are doing and how they hope their work will make a positive impact. The Day One workshop was offered free of charge to interested faculty and graduate students/post docs. Participants were promised opportunities to:

  • Learn what it takes to successfully transfer research into a startup company.
  • Meet business leaders who have launched successful university-based startup companies.
  • Find answers to common questions about launching a new business.
  • Hear about additional resources to help pursue an entrepreneurial venture.

The workshop included a networking event/reception at the Davis Restaurant on opening night in which participants introduced themselves and sharpened their “elevator pitches.” The workshop continued the next day, drawing center directors, graduate students/post docs and professors, some of whom have already launched their own university spinouts.

The list of presenters included staff members from Technology Transfer Services, UO Vice President for Research and Innovation Kimberly Andrews Espy, ONAMI Entrepreneur in Residence Augie Sick, Endeavor Law Group and JJ O’Connell, director of entrepreneurial development at the Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce.

Don Upson, CEO of QE Chemicals, emceed the event and led sessions on such topics as how to give successful investor presentations and how to identify opportunity in the marketplace. Other subjects of discussion included avoiding common mistakes, communicating competitive advantage and building successful teams. Skip Rung, president and executive director of the Oregon Signature Research Center, ONAMI, gave a presentation titled “Develop a Funding Strategy Relevant to University Spinouts.”

“This was an opportunity for students and faculty to connect with entrepreneurs and staff in our Technology Transfer Services office and start building the support and knowledge base they need to create successful startups,” Espy said. “By partnering with the Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce, we hope to continue to inspire and inform UO researchers so they can succeed in transforming great ideas into winning commercial ventures.”

- by Lewis Taylor, UO Office of Research, Innovation and Graduate Education