Celebrating the fourth year of competition, the Catalyze Klamath Falls Challenge has awarded nearly $100,000 in prize money and services over the past three years and continues this year with a prize pool of $22,500. Students and alumni alike have found great success and many continued on to compete at even higher levels at other invention challenges in the state. Catalyze IV launched in October 2017 and as of the registration cutoff date last week, 10 teams are now in the race to the finals in May.

The Challenge encourages students to bring Innovation Close to Home and begin entrepreneurial efforts in Klamath Falls, such as starting a business. The Catalyze Meet-and-Greet, held January 17 at Gaucho Collective, allowed teams to meet one another and connect with many of the mentors available to aid them in their missions. Student competitors also learned that the prize money has once again increased, now amounting to $22,500 - up from $19,500 last year - thanks to generous donations.

Participants are Oregon Tech students or recent graduates who reside in the Klamath Falls area. Any major or field of study is encouraged to participate. Teams will utilize previous knowledge, explore the unknown, and seek advice from professionals and teachers to develop their entrepreneurial business plans.

The 10 teams registered are as follows (concept names are used to protect company names at this time):

  • Klamath engineer and manufacture
    • Jason Peters
    • Benjamin Porter
  • Biofuels
    • James Woitas
    • Almoatasem Alismaili
    • Sophia Azevedo
  • Flame charger
    • Avery McMillan
    • DJ Harryman
    • Ethan Cole
    • Connor Scott
  • Medic alert
    • Bryan Wada
    • Jake Carpenter
    • Damian Johnson
    • Megan Morris
    • Spencer Jackson
    • Isa Daibes
  • Flow meter
    • Baker McDonald
    • Ory Foltz
    • Scott Haynes
  • Prosthetics
    • Dakota Webb
    • Adam Arrington
    • Bailey Baxter
  • Brewhouse
    • David Murphy
    • Seth Gretz
  • Greenhouse
    • Chris Murdock
  • Launch vehicles
    • David Minar
    • Julien Mindlin-Davidson
    • Brandon Camp
    • Micah Hicks
  • Fleur De Lis
    • L.B.
    • Chris Coelho
    • Trini Gonzales
    • Clayton Maves
    • Ephraim Church

The prize money is compiled through generous donations from Oregon Tech, Klamath County, City of Klamath Falls, KCEDA, Avista, the Gaucho Collective, Klamath IDEA, Invent Oregon, Business Oregon and the Wendt Family Foundation.

Competitors will have the opportunity to first present their concept at the annual SharkTech Venture Pitch Contest on March 7, and are expected to compete in front of a panel of judges for the final competition on May 17. Prize awards amount to $7,500 for first place, $5,000 for second place, and $2,500 for third place. Additionally, Business Oregon awards one competitor $500 for rural innovation, and InventOR has committed to awarding each team $200 to build their prototype. This is in excess to two $2,500 awards InventOR presents to two teams of their choice, along with the opportunity for those two teams to continue on to the annual InventOR contest. InventOR brings together 22 teams from statewide four- and two-year colleges to compete for even larger prizes. Oregon Tech is proud to announce that the InventOR contest will take place on Oregon Tech’s Klamath Falls campus on June 29, 2018.

Anyone interested in helping with sponsorship, mentoring, sharing of expertise through a session with students, or in an advisory capacity, please contact Hallie Neupert, professor and department chair of Management at Oregon Tech, at Hallie.neupert@oit.edu.

For more information and competition guidelines go to www.oit.edu/catalyze.