In Oregon, several state initiatives have helped spur innovation.
For example, the Signature Research Centers have opened up research labs and provided grants to inventors and startups working on ideas with commercial potential.
And Oregon State University is actively courting private industry collaboration to fund research, said Richard Spinrad, the school's vice president for research. Private investment is up 42% over the past two years, and the number of licensing deals for university patents is soaring.
A few successes: Over 60% of the wheat grown in Oregon is licensed from wheat breed developed at the university. Engineers at Oregon State have developed transparent transistors licensed, in conjunction with Hewlett-Packard (Fortune 500), for use in flatscreen TVs, PC displays and tablets. ,
In a lousy economy, startup ideas can be found in surprising places. We asked Thumbtack.com which opportunities are drawing the most interest from entrepreneurs and their customers.
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