What makes Oregon so inventive? Its reputation as a cool place for the young, hip and smart certainly helps. Highly educated young people "are attracted by what they perceive to be the lifestyle and culture of the community," said David Chen, chairman of the Oregon Innovation Council, a state business development group. "They contribute to...a creative and innovation-based economy."
The state's natural resources and strong high-tech sector also play a role. The offices of giants like Intel and Hewlett-Packard bring thousands of tech-minded folks to the state. No wonder Oregon generates so many patents in areas like nanotechnology, material sciences, sustainable and natural products, medicine, biology, and advanced adhesives.
In the early part of the decade, Oregon started encouraging its companies and universities to work together more closely, sharing equipment and cooperating to develop intellectual property. The move "really paid off" said Chen, allowing the state to gain critical mass as an innovator beyond its size.