Portland State University has hired Shelley Gunton, a successful entrepreneur and advisor to new Oregon business owners, to help faculty and students develop their ideas into new business ventures.
Gunton, who co-founded a leading pet products company, will direct PSU's new Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, a central resource for faculty, students, alumni and community members who want to launch businesses. The new center will serve as a regional hub of entrepreneurship, providing critical assistance that leads to job creation and economic growth.
"Shelley has a track record of success as an entrepreneur and is deeply engaged with the investment community," said Erin Flynn, associate vice president for strategic partnerships. "She is passionate about entrepreneurship, is widely respected in the business community, and has tremendous energy and focus. Shelley is an ideal person to advance and support entrepreneurship and innovation on campus and in the Portland region at this time."
As executive director of the new center, Gunton will work closely with PSU's Office of Innovation and Intellectual Property, the Portland State Business Accelerator and other business and engineering programs to leverage and grow activities across campus. The center is a collaboration of the Office of Research and Strategic Partnerships, the School of Business Administration and the Maseeh College of Engineering and Computer Science.
"The newly created Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship provides the structure needed to further business formation by students and faculty, but we needed someone with Shelley Gunton's experience and passion to truly realize the center's potential," said Scott Dawson, dean of PSU's business school. "Her success as an entrepreneur and involvement in the region's entrepreneurial ecosystem make her the perfect choice to become the center's first director."
Gunton has co-founded and run several businesses, including Castor & Pollux Natural PetWorks, a leading organic and natural pet products company based in Clackamas, Ore. The company won the first cash award at Angel Oregon 2005, an investment conference for entrepreneurs. Three years later, two Boston–based private equity firms bought the vast majority of the company, providing a solid return to investors. Gunton remains on the Castor & Pollux board, serves as chairwoman of Angel Oregon 2012, sits on the board of the Oregon Entrepreneurs Network and advises many early-stage companies and entrepreneurs.
Gunton, who joined PSU on Feb. 1, said her new role ignites her entrepreneurial spirit.
"I think we can do so much to bring new jobs to our economy by catalyzing innovation and entrepreneurship here at PSU," she said. "Ultimately, I'd like to see PSU recognized on a national, if not international, level as a true innovator in building infrastructure for entrepreneurship. In the meantime, we’re going to focus on providing a collaborative environment and resources for PSU students, faculty, staff and alumni, along with entrepreneurs in the region to build successful companies and commercialize innovations coming out of the University. This is an amazing opportunity for PSU!”