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InventOR takes it statewide with 12 colleges and universities competing for $25,000 in prototyping grants to bring their inventions to market

Feb 09, 2018
Projects showcase solutions to important social and economic challenges across the state, culminating in the InventOR competition this June in Klamath Falls

College and university student inventors are gearing up for a season of entrepreneurial competitions across the state of Oregon, culminating in the InventOR competition this June in Klamath Falls. Designed to increase the number of inventors and entrepreneurs across the state, InventOR challenges the winners from campus and regional competitions to compete for a top prize of $25,000.  Projects showcase solutions to important social and economic challenges across the state, including pressing community needs experienced in Oregon’s urban and rural regions.

Interest for the InventOR program among higher education institutions in the state has doubled from last year. This year’s competition will include student teams from 12 public and private colleges and universities from across the state including: Clackamas Community College, Eastern Oregon University, George Fox University, Oregon State University, Oregon Institute of Technology, Portland Community College, Portland State University, Rogue Valley Community College, Umpqua Community College, University of Oregon, University of Portland, and Warner Pacific University. Each of the participating schools will start with its own campus teams and/or regional competitions this spring. Two finalist teams from each first-round competition will advance to the statewide event. Criteria for advancement and the final prize focus on articulating the problem their invention helps to solve, the efficacy of the solution, the potential for impact in the community, and viability as a self-sustaining business. Judges also assess the quality, progress and completeness of the prototype, among other criteria. The competition is open to both undergraduate- and graduate-level students.

“InventOR is a great opportunity for us to deliver on two of our strategies, promoting an environment that supports entrepreneurship, and expanding capacity of rural communities,” said Chris Harder, director of Business Oregon, the state’s economic development agency that is partnering with InventOR. “Encouraging invention and entrepreneurship today creates greater economic opportunity tomorrow.”

With its doubling in size in one year, InventOR, which grew out of PSU’s CleanTech Challenge, is quickly becoming the state’s proving ground for collegiate inventors. Sponsored by The Lemelson Foundation, Business Oregon, and PSU’s Center for Entrepreneurship, the expansion of InventOR was made possible by a generous grant from Lemelson. 

“We believe in the power of invention to improve lives,” notes Carol Dahl, executive director at the Lemelson Foundation. “We’re excited to see the growth of the InventOR program and the opportunity it provides to inspire and incent Oregon students to apply their knowledge and creativity to the challenges they see in their communities and beyond.” 

This year’s final event will be held on June 29 and hosted by the Oregon Institute of Technology (Oregon Tech) at its campus in Klamath Falls.

“Oregon Tech is honored and proud to host the 2018 InventOR competition in southern Oregon for the first time,” said Dr. Nagi Naganathan, president of Oregon Tech. “Exciting innovations are happening in Oregon’s rural areas that are positively impacting the region, and innovative students are leading the way and transforming our economy for the better statewide.”

“We are excited to have more than double the number of schools participating this year’s InventOR over last year,” said Juan Barraza, a PSU program manager who leads InventOR. “Student innovators and entrepreneurs from colleges and universities across the state are building solutions that will have a huge impact on our communities and globally. We can’t wait to see what the teams will be developing and showcasing this year.”
To learn more about InventOR, visit https://www.inventoregon.org/.

Contact Christina Williams at cdw2@pdx.edu.

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