At one-year anniversary, Portland bioscience incubator readies for expansion

The Oregon Translational Research and Development Institute plans to expand its Bioscience Incubator a year after opening its doors.

OTRADI will be adding 2,500 square feet to its South Waterfront incubator to accommodate both its current six occupants and to add three new companies that are waiting for lab and office space to open up, said Executive Director Jennifer Fox.

The 13,000-square-foot incubator, which opened last June on Southwest Macadam Avenue, includes shared and private office and lab space and common areas where tenants can visit and toss around ideas.

“It’s been much more popular and needed and more of a resource that was lacking than we thought,” Fox said. “We promised it would be full in six months, with a gulp of ‘I hope we’re not crazy,’ and we were full in six weeks.”

Occupants also have access to the OBI BioMentoring program, shared equipment and conference rooms and to angel and venture capital through OBI’s Entrepreneur-in-Residence program.

Fox said a lot of interest has been generated just by word of mouth. The waiting list has 10 companies, some from the Portland area, as well as Medford and Seattle. The hope is to add another 2,500 square feet after this upcoming expansion.

“It’s like a beacon — they come toward it,” Fox said. “There’s a perception that there’s not a lot of bioscience companies in Portland. It’s because you don’t see them. They’re kind of invisible.”

Expansion will be partially funded by a capital campaign to be launched this month. OTRADI has invested about $1 million in state grants in equipment that’s often beyond the budgets of small companies and start ups.

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