RealTime IT News

Open Source Centers on Beaverton

UPDATED: An ambitious $1.2 million project to create new jobs in the city of Beaverton, Ore., is under way. The Open Technology Business Center (OTBC) will open its doors Feb. 1, according to its executive director, LaVonee Reimer, in a Tuesday afternoon press conference.

The center will serve as an incubator for fledgling businesses who use open source technology to create their own privatized offerings. Reimer calls it "open technology," a business approach where companies share core technologies and make profitable products in niche areas that provide the greatest value.

The OTBC has three programs in mind: ventures- and innovators-in-residence, where qualified start-ups and individuals can set up shop and take advantage of the center's office space and Internet connection; innovation and research; and education and outreach.

Reimer said that while much of the center's efforts focus on open source, it's not a requirement for entrepreneurs who want to join the OTBC's in-residence program. All they need to do to qualify, she said, is provide an executive summary, a product idea with fundability potential and prior start-up experience, as well as some other criteria.

"The programs that we are sponsoring at the center will be open technology-related, that's true," she said. "It's simply that we're not requiring companies to show us that they are using Linux or open source in their development."

Currently, there are a couple of companies using the OTBC facility but haven't been certified through the center's selection process yet, Reimer said. One company that has, Stunt Computing, will move into the facility in the next couple of weeks.

Funding and expertise support from private industries will play a key role in the OTBC's success down the road. There are several technology companies in the area, notably IBM's facility in Beaverton, and Reimer expects the center to announce some formal arrangements in the coming months.

Mike Darcy, an IBM spokesman, said the company will evaluate the OTBC before making any decisions.

"IBM, obviously, is a huge supporter of the open source community and the OSDL, and we have our Linux technology business based out of Beaverton and we will look at the [OTBC] also," he said. "But we have not made our decision at this time."

Stuart Cohen, Open Source Development Labs (OSDL) CEO, was on hand during the press conference to lend his support to the new center, saying its launch has sparked interest as far away as China. Ministers in that country's technology agencies have said they hope to create a similar center.

"[The OTBC] is the first of its kind, and I think that's a unique perspective for us to keep in mind as we talk about this partnership," Cohen said during the press conference. "It's a place devoted to bringing people together to get the best minds of business, law, technology to evolve business strategies in a way that develops businesses and develops strategies in a very short period of time."

According to the OTBC Web site, the OSDL will consult and advise participants of technology gaps in the open source software industry that create an opening for business opportunities.

"Open technologies, such as Linux and many other software and hardware technologies that work with Linux, have been available in a lot of corporate R&D facilities, and now it's time to unleash that to the rest of the world," Cohen continued. "I'm glad we're taking the leadership role today."