Where Portland’s Athletic & Outdoor, Software, and Clean Tech clusters should meet

[Editor’s Note: While the Portland Development Commission (PDC) works with the software community, they’re also in the midst of working on other industries in which Portland shows strengths. Most notably, athletic and outdoor apparel and clean tech clusters. Guest writer and serial entrepreneur Dave Chase, whom you may remember from “10 reasons I chose Portland over Seattle and Silicon Valley to locate my startup,” is back with an interesting take on where all of these clusters could collaborate.]

This week, the Portland Development Commission (PDC) announced a new action plan to foster what they are now calling “The Athletic and Outdoor Industry Cluster.” Shortly thereafter, I watched a video of an innovative Scandinavian energy company. They have managed to turn a boring energy company into something decidedly more interesting integrating exercise into the energy grid and rewarding people accordingly. More on that below…

What struck me about the PDC announcement is how they could take this a step further and provide connective tissue between heretofore independent industry clusters and weave them together. Specifically, weave the Athletic and Outdoor cluster with the Clean Tech and Software clusters. The Nike Plus is the tip of the iceberg on how technology and exercise can be interwoven. One of the hottest new products is fitbit that extends this even further.

I believe we are at the very beginning of this trend and our region would be a natural home for the development of the intersection of athletic pursuits and technology. It’s not hard to imagine technologies like fitbit literally woven into products from Oregon-based companies. Better yet, that should have a dramatic effect on addressing the obesity epidemic that is a major public health issue.

As Dr. Jay Parkinson has said:

The argument I made is that how we spend our time is the number one killer in the developed world and modern medicine doesn’t have the tools to improve how we spend our time. From 1880 to 1960, our life expectancy increased 31 years. From 1960 to 2010 (the era of “modern medicine”), we’ve only added 7 years. It was simple public health measures like clean water, vaccines, and antibiotics that made such a drastic change prior to 1960. And now we’re stuck because pills and scalpels don’t fix unhealthy lifestyle.

So, if modern medicine isn’t going to fix our bad behavior, what will?

I’m calling this Public Health 2.0. Public Health 2.0 is taking an active role in designing our built environment, our food supply, our activities, and our social connections to ultimately influence for the better how we spend our time in this modern world. We should talk about good design more in terms of health.

Parkinson’s call to arms is worth heeding for our public officials.

Imagine going to your health club and whatever you power helps lower your electric bill. It may sound crazy, but it’s happening. Just not in America. Log in and instead of biking by the miles you bike by the kilowatts. The bikes and equipment makes energy so why not harness that power? Watch the video to see how it works. Shouldn’t Portland be the first place to have this in the U.S.?


About Dave Chase

Prior to working in startups, Dave spent 12 years at Microsoft in various senior marketing and general management roles, including his role as Worldwide Healthcare Industry Director and Managing Director for Industry Marketing & Relations for the Digital Media industry. He both founded industry organizations and served on their board that played pivotal roles in the growth of those industries.

In the aftermath of the dotcom bust, he was selected to take a leadership role within the online ad industry to grow online’s share of the overall ad market in concert with AOL, Yahoo!, DoubleClick/Google and other market leaders. During his tenure, MSN championed three major initiatives that the industry adopted that led to the turnaround of the online ad industry.

Prior to joining MSFT, Dave was a senior consultant with Accenture’s Healthcare Practice working with a wide array of healthcare providers and systems. Dave has also been a successful investor and adviser to several early-stage companies.

He can be found on Twitter as @chasedave.

(Image courtesy Richard Masoner. Used under Creative Commons.)

  1. […] of dialog here and offline. He has shared why he chose Portland over Seattle and Silicon Valley and how Oregon’s Athletic & Outdoor, Software & Clean Tech clusters should meet. Then in the first part of a two-part series on healthcare, he put out a call to action for […]

  2. Dave – good questions and ideas. I’m not affiliated in any way with MicroGym and don’t know the answers! It could be a good follow up story?

  3. Cindy – How are those bikes holding up? They look like a regular Spin bike. It would be interesting to see a simple calculator that showed the payback period for one of these bikes. Naturally a club or corporate gym (vs. an individual) would have a big advantage as more than 1 or 2 people would use it in a day. Has anyone done a simple calculator that says how many average workouts it would take to payback via the save electricity costs? Of course, a company would also benefit when its employees are in better shape.

    The Scandinavian video showed other exercise equipment (beyond bikes) such as treadmills. Are there any other pieces of equipment coming beyond bikes from Resource Fitness?

  4. Dear Pacific Power, Portland General Electric, Idaho Power, Consumers Power, Columbia Rural Electric, and Blachly-Lane, Central, Coos-Curry, Douglas, Lane, Mid-state, Salem, Umatilla, West Oregon, Oregon Trail, Hood River, Wasco, Surprise Valley, Columbia Basin, Harney, Columbia Power, and Umpqua Indian Utility Electric Cooperatives: Which of you is going to be first? We’re waiting…You could start by sponsoring The Green Microgym, which Cindy mentions above, but you’ll need to do more, quickly. How can we help?

  5. Yes!
    Check out the PDX Green Microgym: http://thegreenmicrogym.com/
    Energy generated powers the building. I love the idea of extending that to the community/users.

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