Seedbed for Startups

Methane-powered engines. Autonomous helicopters. Online shopping assistants. Electricity from wastewater. These new products and the business opportunities they generate are in the pipeline at Oregon State University’s Advantage Accelerator.

They are among 14 research concepts or spinoff companies selected to participate in a program that spurs the creation of new companies from university-based research. Five of them were started by Oregon State students.

The results could lead to automotive innovation, improved heating systems, more efficient solar cells or safe and efficient cesarean delivery of a baby in small, rural hospitals.

Lyndsay Toll and Darren Marchall developed the concept for BuyBott in an entrepreneurship class at Oregon State. Their vision: an online shopping assistant where customers can shop, compare and share from multiple retailers. (Photo: Chris Becerra)

“These concepts and companies are emerging from Oregon State or the Corvallis community, and we feel good about the commercial potential of all of them,” says John Turner, co-director of the Advantage Accelerator.

Turner and co-director Mark Lieberman identify innovation and research findings that might form the basis for profitable companies. By tapping into the skills of Oregon State students who are trained venture interns, Turner and Lieberman facilitate each company’s development with legal, marketing, financial and mentoring expertise. Their goal is to turn good ideas into real-world businesses.

The Advantage Accelerator is a component of the Oregon State University Advantage, an educational, research and commercialization initiative of the Research Office. Officials expect it to increase industry investment in Oregon State research by 50 percent and to lead to the creation of 20 new businesses within five years.

The program is also affiliated with the South Willamette Valley Regional Accelerator and Innovation Network, or RAIN, which received $3.75 million in funding from the state Legislature in 2013.

Advantage Accelerator Companies

  • Bauer Labs LLC, facilitator for emergency cesareans
  • Beet, high-efficiency solar absorber
  • BuyBott, online shopping assistant
  • FanTogether, connects sports fans
  • Heating Systems, microchannel arrays for high-efficiency, portable heating systems
  • InforeMed, health-care simulation for education
  • Macromolecular structure characterization, determination of protein structures
  • Multicopter Northwest, small autonomous helicopters
  • NRGIndependence, long-life, utility-scale battery technology
  • Onboard Dynamics, compressed methane for cars and trucks
  • PlayPulse, psychological response detection through video
  • Valliscor LLC, continuous-flow reactors for chemical manufacturing
  • Waste2Watergy, electricity from wastewater
  • µCHX, microscale combustor and heat exchanger

The Advantage program connects businesses with Oregon State faculty and students, research facilities and startup companies emerging from OSU research.