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Oregon State University Spearheads Two Innovative Tech Hubs for Semiconductor and Sustainable Timber Development

Oregon State University (OSU) has recently been recognized by the White House for its leadership in two groundbreaking Tech Hubs. These hubs, focusing on microfluidic technology for semiconductors and mass timber design and manufacturing, are part of a larger initiative announced by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration. This initiative aims to foster regional innovation and job creation, enhancing American competitiveness in technology sectors.

OSU stands out as the only university to lead two of the 31 Tech Hubs selected from nearly 400 applicants. This accomplishment reflects the university's longstanding commitment to economic development and scientific advancement. OSU President Jayathi Murthy highlighted the university's significant role in promoting progress across various spheres, including economic, social, cultural, and environmental domains.

The Tech Hubs represent a crucial economic development strategy, designed to amplify regional capabilities in technology manufacturing, commercialization, and deployment. Irem Tumer, OSU's Vice President for Research, emphasized the university's approach to innovation and partnership, noting the program's potential to accelerate collaboration with industry leaders in sustainable, human-centered technology applications.

The Corvallis Microfluidics Tech Hub, led by Tom Weller, focuses on establishing a global leadership role in developing and commercializing microfluidics technology, particularly for semiconductor and electronics cooling. Microfluidics involves precise control over small liquid volumes, which is pivotal for industries like high-performance computing, biotechnology, advanced energy, and manufacturing. Weller underlined the national significance of microfluidics-based cooling in enhancing semiconductor performance and reducing energy consumption, thereby impacting fossil fuel pollution.

HP Inc, a prominent partner in this venture, has expressed excitement about collaborating with OSU in their Corvallis facility to advance microfluidics technology.

The Pacific Northwest Mass Timber Tech Hub aims to revolutionize the construction industry by mainstreaming mass timber as a sustainable construction alternative. With the region's expertise in wood products research and development, the hub will invest in advanced materials science. Tom DeLuca from OSU's College of Forestry noted the hub's focus on sustainability and innovation to drive economic growth and policy change while addressing natural resource demands.

Led by Iain Macdonald of the TallWood Design Institute, this hub will build upon existing collaborative efforts with the University of Oregon and other partners. The Tech Hub designation is seen as a validation of their past work and a stepping stone toward transforming the Pacific Northwest into a competitive mass timber industry ecosystem.

In addition to the Tech Hub designation, the microfluidics group at OSU has received a $450,000 grant from the Department of Commerce, with Business Oregon providing a $50,000 local match. The mass timber team, having already completed initial development through previous grants, did not seek this additional funding.

These initiatives are part of the CHIPS and Science Act, signed into law by President Joe Biden in August 2022. They underscore Oregon State University's role as a key player in addressing current global challenges and shaping future leaders, with its extensive research funding and comprehensive programs across Oregon.

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