By Britt Hoskins, OSU Marketing
At the Advanced Technology and Manufacturing Institute, they happen naturally, they’re going to happen more often, and their impacts are positive — for faculty and students, industry and Oregon’s economy.
Located on the HP campus in Corvallis, ATAMI provides an ideal meeting ground for makers of all types, where they can produce and test their inventions. Oregon State University has occupied the building for over a decade, when it was the Microproducts Breakthrough Institute. This year, it is remodeling and equipping the facility to accommodate the growing needs of innovators, researchers and industry partners, effectively doubling the usable square footage. Simultaneously, the Advantage Accelerator program, which is currently based in downtown Corvallis, will take over the second floor.
Karl Mundorff, co-director of OSU Advantage Accelerator, says the space will facilitate “natural collisions” between young startups and more established companies. For example, Inpria is developing advanced semiconductor patterning materials, called photoresists, for high-performance electronics.
Inpria received an infusion of $23.5 million in venture capital funding last summer. COO Ann Carney Nelson remembers the challenges of being a new startup and of people telling them they were “crazy for starting a photoresist company.” It was a tall order in an industry dominated by large public corporations. She credits much of their success to an early and strong relationship with Oregon State faculty and students and access to campus facilities.
As the company continues to grow, Carney Nelson hopes to give a leg up to the next generation. She sees Inpria acting as a “big sibling company” for the Advantage Accelerator and other ATAMI residents.
Several professors from the College of Engineering will also move into the building. They will join faculty researchers like Brian Paul, a leader in the national effort to reinvigorate the U.S. economy through advanced manufacturing. Paul is developing modular chemical plants that can be assembled from Lego-like pieces and shipped just about anywhere. Thanks to a multimillion-dollar, multiyear Department of Energy grant, Paul’s work will continue to expand at ATAMI.
Cindy Sagers, vice president for research, expects ATAMI to stimulate faculty and student innovation. “It’s not simply commercialization. It’s not simply creating new businesses and new jobs. It’s really about expanding the role of the university in training our students and grad students,” she says. “It’s creating opportunities for them to work more closely with industry, to get exposure to entrepreneurial startups and that mindset.”
The Advantage Accelerator plans to be completely moved in by the end of 2018, but Mundorff estimates that it may be done in phases, starting as soon as next spring. He’s excited to watch the