Invent Oregon has created a pathway for talent development in Oregon driven by invention education. It equips Oregon College students with the outlook and the knowledge, skills, and processes needed for the problem identification, technical problem-solving, and entrepreneurial thinking that lie at the core of the invention-driven economy.
Joe Janda —
Associate Vice President of Research and Graduate Studies Portland State University
Invent Oregon is the state’s only college-level prototyping competition, providing the grants and guidance necessary to take a student team’s idea for positive impact through all stages of prototyping. Invent Oregon helps college students at all levels take their concept from an idea to reality.
Students each year start their innovation journey while also balancing school, work and home. It was inspiring to see them transition so fluidly to remote co-working, sometimes separated by oceans. Invent Oregon teams prove that absolutely nothing will stop the next generation of entrepreneurs from bringing the world their ideas.
Abigail Van Gelder —
Director of the PSU Center for Entrepreneurship
Being around people who are also motivated and want to be here and want to learn and want to do things … that’s motivating [to surround] yourself with people who are like actually, like, doing things. — Focus group student
5 Years of Invent Oregon
During the 2022 Invent Oregon finals we partnered with Education Northwest to conduct a formative evaluation of the Invent Oregon programming, aiming to examine how participating students and faculty/staff access and experience the program and how their participation relates to self-reported outcomes of interest. We conducted focus groups with current (summer 2022) InventOR participants and participating faculty from partner institutions during the Invent Oregon Bootcamp event. We also administered an online survey to InventOR alumni from the past four years (since the launch of InventOR). The report addresses three key research questions, presented with key findings below.
Nearly a third of past participants reported making progress in commercializing their prototypes
of survey respondents have taken steps to commercialize the prototype they worked on during the program
Colleges & Universities
InventOR launched in the 2017, 18 school year. Partner institutions around the state of Oregon ( 19 partner institutions in 2022, up from five in the first year ) open applications each fall for student teams to compete in preliminary school level competitions. The winning two teams from each institution are invited attend the InventOR Bootcamp event each spring, which culminates in a semifinal competition. The teams that participate in Bootcamp receive up to $2,500 in development grants to take their invention from an idea to a worki ng prototype while learning about the process of commercialization and working with professional mentors. At the Invent OR Collegiate Challenge finals each June, students present their invention and compete for $30,000 in cash prizes. The Bootcamp and Collegiate Challenge convenings took place in person for the first two years of InventOR in 2018 and 2019, and were moved to a virtual space in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID 19 pandemic. In person convenings resumed in 2022, with Bootcamp held in Portland and the finals held at Rogue Community College in Grants Pass.
Who participates in
InventOR aims to empower students everywhere to see themselves as inventors, including students from regions and demographic groups traditionally underrepresented by STEM and entrepreneurship programming. About a third of InventOR participants who responded to the survey identified as Black, Indigenous, or a person of color (35 percent), came from homes that speak a language other than English (32 percent), and are the first in their family to attend college (29 percent). Nearly a quarter (22 percent) preferred she/her pronouns.
Demographic characteristics of survey participants
About one-third of survey respondents (35 percent) identified as Black, Indigenous, or a person of color (figure 2).
How do you identify your race/ethnicity?
About two-thirds of survey respondents prefer he/him pronouns, while about a quarter prefer she/her pronouns. We also asked about participants’ other identities. Twenty-one percent identified as LGBTQIA+, and a few identified as an immigrant or religious minority (table A2).
Figure 2: About one-third of survey respondents identified as Black, Indigenous, or a person of color
What are your preferred pronouns?
Source: Education Northwest analysis of the 2022 InventOR Alumni survey (n = 58) Note: Percentages may not add to 100 due to rounding.
Figure 3: Two-thirds of survey respondents use he/him pronouns
Participants gained knowledge and confidence
of survey respondents said InventOR helped them make valuable connections for the future