The Portland Development Commission (PDC), Jaguar Land Rover and Drive Oregon will collaborate on Jaguar Land Rover’s investment in its Innovation Incubator project in Northwest Portland with a precedent-setting public benefits agreement.
The agreement is unusual in its scope, setting a high standard for Portland’s technology industry—or any other industry—to align equity, entrepreneurship, and workforce goals to drive hiring of underrepresented populations for high-quality local jobs. Among other terms, Jaguar Land Rover has agreed to provide a youth internship program, employment opportunity outreach to historically underrepresented communities, and extensive community engagement initiatives.
Jaguar Land Rover’s Innovation Incubator will encourage, promote, and support new software-based automotive technologies that are being developed by technology startups. The focus will be on finding innovators who have great potential ideas but need Jaguar Land Rover’s technical help to make these concepts a reality.
The company will select up to a dozen technology startups per year. Two places will be prioritized for startups founded by underrepresented populations. The company plans to hire 50 experienced engineers and developers to work directly with the startups and expects to invest both money and engineering and operational support for the startups hosted in the incubator.
PDC Executive Director Patrick Quinton said, “Our 2015-20 Strategic Planidentifies just this kind of partnership to advance our goals for a more inclusive economy. We are very proud that this international company chose to base its North American research and innovation efforts in Portland, with its strong entrepreneurial culture and deep technology talent pool, over other competitive U.S. locations.”
Matt Jones, Head of Future Infotainment, Jaguar Land Rover, will manage the new facility, and said, “This incubator approach will enable us to seek out and encourage young companies with brilliant ideas for new technologies who may lack the technical skills or knowledge of the automotive industry to move their ideas forward. As well as mentoring them and offering them technical support, we will provide them with a base where they can develop and test their ideas in our brand new, collaborative and innovative environment in Portland.”
Drive Oregon's Executive Director Jeff Allen stated, “The electronics and software in today’s cars are increasingly complex. Portland has a wealth of talent that can help develop the increasingly complex electronics and software in modern vehicles, and a rich history as a sustainable mobility leader. We look forward to continuing to work with PDC and Jaguar Land Rover to help local startups develop the future of transportation."
Jaguar Land Rover opened a technology center in Portland in 2013 and has worked with PDC for more than a year on its business development plans. The incubator project, housed in a new second facility, will enable the company to test and deploy new technology products with the incubator startups for both Jaguar Land Rover use and potential sale to third parties.
Portland City Council approved an Enterprise Zone boundary agreement on Wednesday, June 24, that will facilitate the company’s expansion through tax savings of $382,000 over the next five years. In addition to the Ezone benefit, Drive Oregon will contribute a $50,000 grant to support the launch and operation of the incubator.
The Jaguar Land Rover Portland facility is one of 13 initial signers of the Tech Diversity Pledge.
Jaguar Land Rover is the UK’s largest automotive manufacturing business, built around two iconic British car brands: Land Rover, the world’s leading manufacturer of premium all-wheel drive vehicles and Jaguar, one of the world’s premier luxury sports car marques. (jaguarlandrover.com)
Drive Oregon is a nonprofit 501(c)(6) trade association dedicated to growing the electric mobility industry in Oregon and promoting the state as a "living lab" for electric vehicle technology deployment. Members include innovators, entrepreneurs, and established industry leaders throughout the entire supply chain. Drive Oregon is funded in part with Oregon State Lottery Funds administered by Business Oregon. Learn more at driveoregon.org.