Monday, September 13, 2010

Research dollars and small business assistance

Research dollars help create companies
A recent story from The Oregonian reports on 38 workers putting the final touches on a portable kidney dialysis machine that's poised to improve lives and bring millions in sales. The machine's maker, Home Dialysis Plus, shares space on the Hewlett-Packard campus in Corvallis with the Microproducts Brekathrough Institute, a joint research initiative of Oregon State University and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. The fledgling company has depended on breakthroughs in microfluidics by OSU researchers to design a dialysis machine small enough to fit in overhead luggage bins on commercial flights.

The relationship between academic researchers and this commercial venture offers an example of how university research can fuel bright spots in Oregon's economy. During the last year, Oregon's four research universities (OSU, UO, PSU, and OHSU) all increased their share of competitive research grants, collectively bringing in more than $850 million. That money helps support thousands of research jobs and graduate research assistantships, and the development of start-up companies like Home Dialysis Plus.

Will small business aid help Oregon's economy?
A report from Oregon Public Broadcasting says the federal plan for direct small business assistance outlined last week may prove beneficial for some employers in Oregon.

Federal rules cast a wide net, allowing a company to self-classify as a small business. Regional Economist Pat O'Connor explains that the term small business is relative. "If you're a small rural community with less than a thousand jobs, someone with 25 or 30 employees might be a fairly significant business."

Many of Oregon's agricultural outfits qualify as small businesses.

Economists following Portland say the metro area has a disproportionate number of jobs with large companies like Nike or Intel. So it’s hard to say if tax breaks and credit help for small businesses would kick start Oregon’s economy.

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