A collaboration to further innovation: Portland IQ officially launches

Way back when, I started Silicon Florist as an attempt to raise the visibility of a bunch of amazing activity I was seeing Portland tech startup community. Then, I helped start PIE—and continue to run it—because I felt that we needed to do more than talk about the community, we needed to help it grow through mentorship and connections. My motivations to help start Built Oregon came from similar desire to help the consumer product industries in Oregon. And now, I’m bullish on a new effort designed to enhance collaboration and innovation across all of those industries—and more—in Portland. Meet the Portland IQ.

The Portland IQ—what started as the Portland Innovation Quadrant—has been a conversation for years. I’ve had the pleasure to be part of that conversation for the past two years. But it’s only recently that it has progressed from a conversation into an actual organization. And you know me, I really like getting involved when folks are starting stuff. And executing.

So what is the Portland IQ exactly? Well, it’s an attempt to create a center of gravity for innovation in Portland. An effort to create career pathways with a variety of educational institutions to ensure we’re able to help grow the entrepreneurs and talent that will be part of Portland’s future. A way to engage a variety of disciplines and opinions to inform and support the parallel real-estate development efforts of major parcels of land in our city’s core—the ODOT Blocks, the OMSI campus expansion, and Zidell Yards, among them—to build intentionally with innovation and collaboration in mind. And most importantly, it’s a desire to ensure that the access to and support of innovation is one that is inclusive of all Portlanders. Not just a chosen few.

“As industry boundaries continue to blur, proximity to talent, ideas, and facilities matter more and more,” said Erin Flynn, Chair, Portland IQ. “The IQ is home to remarkable innovation assets including our region’s anchor educational institutions, business incubators, startups, maker spaces, and coworking offices. The IQ will better connect and amplify these assets by creating a central hub for Oregon’s innovation economy.

“We’ve worked to engage with a variety of partners interested in growing and attracting talent, providing business support, and securing the ongoing investment required to fuel continued innovation. All of us in the Portland IQ are excited to embrace this unique opportunity to serve as the center of gravity for our region’s entire innovation economy. And we look forward to engaging with new partners as this effort builds.”

For me, engaging on this project feels like an exponential leveling up of all of the work I’ve been doing for the past decade or so. It’s very similar. But on a much, much larger scale. With a wider variety of companies and partners. And with the unique potential to effect both meaningful and lasting change for our amazing city and its future.

We’ve been talking about this for a while. But it’s truly just starting. And I can’t wait to see where it goes from here. Especially now that we have some initial materials to help us talk more openly about it.

For more on the launch, read the Portland IQ launch announcement and coverage in the Portland Business Journal. If you’re more of a podcast type, you might enjoy the Catalyte interview with Portland IQ chair Erin Flynn.

For more information or to get involved, visit the Portland IQ.

[Full disclosure: I am the cofounder and general manager of PIE. PIE is one of the founding partners of the Portland IQ.]