Oregon Institute of Technology, as the lead institution, has received $140,000 from Business Oregon/Oregon Innovation Council (Oregon InC) to plan a regional innovation hub in South Central Oregon. The hub will provide local entrepreneurs access to technical assistance, capital, networking, mentorship, and talent development in the region.

Regional Innovation Hubs are a new Oregon InC initiative to advance innovation in Oregon. Oregon Tech will serve as the lead for the South Central Oregon Regional Innovation (SCORI) hub and partner with Klamath Community College (KCC), Klamath County Economic Development Association (KCEDA), KCC Small Business Development Center, Klamath IDEA, and Lake County Chamber of Commerce. In addition, the City of Klamath Falls and Klamath County commissioners will serve as collaborative partners.

"Innovation is the result of successful implementation of creative ideas, and successful innovation is rarely the work of one person," Oregon Tech President Nagi Naganathan said. "Often, such an implementation is hindered by the lack of local resources for advancing promising concepts or designs of inventors and entrepreneurs who have done the foundational work and laboratory level prototype development of their creative ideas. This will be the central purpose of the SCORI hub, enabling a pathway for innovative ideas to develop into new business and product ideas in the region. It has been a pleasure to work closely with President Gutierrez and his colleagues at KCC and Klamath IDEA as well as Randy Cox at KCEDA in launching this initiative."

Headquartered at Oregon Tech, the hub is geared to capitalize on the talents and assets of its higher education institutions, government, and business partners to develop an innovation ecosystem designed to facilitate and encourage economic development and promote entrepreneurship by taking promising ideas to viable business opportunities. The hub is expected to support all technology sectors.

The SCORI hub planning process includes outreach to ensure the hub is inclusive of partners throughout the region, especially those from historically underserved communities, and completing an assessment of the region's innovation assets, needs, capacity, and gaps. SCORI will also create a database of resident expertise, mentors, and workforce training to nurture innovation and entrepreneurship.

Hub partners are currently establishing the hub's vision, goals, strategies, and anticipated outcomes. They plan to have the hub's framework developed in one year and seek additional funding for the hub. The grant effort is the first step in a two-part process to establish the SCORI hub. The project is funded in part with Oregon State Lottery funds administered by Oregon Business Development Department.

The planning is being led by Oregon Tech Vice Provost for Research and Academic Affairs, Dr. Abdy Afjeh, with assistance from leaders at partner organizations.