Sen. & Rep. Whitsett lead investment in student, graduate entrepreneurs with $9,000 prize pool
Well-known for commitment towards an applied learning approach and hands-on experience, Oregon Tech brings Innovation Close to Home
with a new challenge specifically targeting business growth and relevant project experiences for students. The Catalyze Klamath
challenge encourages Oregon Tech students and recent alumni to start businesses in Klamath Falls to ignite rural economic development in this area.
Innovation concepts or prototypes developed by Oregon Tech seniors and recent graduates from 2013 and 2014 for Catalyze can be wide-ranging, must meet a user/customer need, and have a substantial potential market for the future. With the theme of Innovation Close to Home, participants are encouraged to be creative but realistic and create a concept for a new idea, product, or service that could become a thriving business and add value and meaning in everyday lives, encouraging solutions for job growth in the Klamath Falls area.
Sponsored by the Deans of Oregon Tech’s College of Engineering, Technology, and Management (ETM) and College of Health, Arts, and Sciences (HAS), the event is made possible through the generous donation of Senator Doug Whitsett and Representative Gail Whitsett and funds from the university. Oregon Tech is continuing to seek out additional donations for the competition, so winning projects have a higher amount of investment with which to launch or extend their current entrepreneurial efforts.
As an avid supporter of growth in rural Oregon and representative of Klamath County, Senator Whitsett shared the motivation for making this challenge possible. “Representative Whitsett and I want to encourage students and alumni of Oregon Tech to embrace the culture of entrepreneurship in Klamath Falls. I am excited to team up with Oregon Tech for this opportunity and hope it will help kindle rural economic development and provide hands-on experience to participants.”
Participants will form teams of 2-5 current Oregon Tech students or recent graduates who reside in the Klamath area. Any major or field of study is welcome to participate (interdisciplinary teams are encouraged). Teams will utilize previous knowledge, explore the unknown, and seek advice from professionals and teachers to develop their entrepreneurial business plans.
Dr. Charlie Jones, Dean of ETM said, “We are very excited about this innovative competition and the seed funding from the Whitsett family as a way to encourage our students and graduates to contribute to economic development in Klamath Falls. This is a region that has great potential, but needs these types of incentives to help entrepreneurs launch businesses that can have a positive impact on our community.”
Registration for the contest is now open; participants must register by the end of January and will have four months to submit preliminary concept materials by the late-February deadline. Entrants first competitive event will be held at the annual SharkTech Venture Pitch Summit held on March 4-5, 2015. Appraisal will be based on a comprehensive evaluation of the innovativeness and thoroughness of the business/marketing plan, and the practicality of the final product or service.
A judging panel will determine the winners in the eighth week of Spring term 2015. The top winners will receive $5,000, second prize will receive $3,000, and third place will take $1,000.
Anyone interested in helping with sponsorship, mentoring, sharing of expertise through a session with students, or in an advisory capacity, please contact Lita Colligan, Associate Vice President for Strategic Partnerships at Oregon Tech, at Lita.Colligan@oit.edu or 503-821-1247.