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.
Invent Oregon 2021 Finalist
Invent Oregon had an impact on me personally. I gained a lot more confidence in myself and my startup, and I also learned so many valuable lessons that I will remember moving forward.
Manreet Brar - ShieldU
Oregon State University
CREATING AN IMAPCT:
THE LAST 5 YEARS
When Invent Oregon started 5 years ago we asked Oregon College innovators two basic questions:
During that first year, we partnered with 5 Oregon Higher Education Institutions and 10 student teams. In five short years, Invent Oregon has grown to include collaborations with 19 Oregon Colleges and Universities, has served over 1400 college students, seeing 89 teams participate in the state finals, and awarded over $350,000 in prototyping grants and prizes.
Invent Oregon wasn’t initiated as a way to create fully formed ventures, but instead to enhance Invention education and entrepreneurial learning. However, we have seen students take what they started in the program and keep running. Teams have filed patents and launched products, sometimes while still in school.
Every day, on any Oregon campus, you can find students with an idea that has the potential to change the world. They are trying to figure out how to build it, and if they can take it to market, but the likelihood for success depends on factors they might not be thinking about. How to put together a team, build a prototype, navigate the pathway to commercialization, and find access to resources. Invent Oregon is their chance to undertake creating a start-up within the support of the College and Oregon startup ecosystem. We invite students to take what they are learning in the classroom and apply it in a real-world setting. Students are provided with mentors and peer-to-peer learning and support from other students across the state, along with grant money.
Students participating in Invent Oregon hail from a wide array of backgrounds and majors, we include training aimed at leveling the playing field. They are invited to participate in a bootcamp, have one-on-one coaching with subject matter experts, and given the opportunity to connect with professional resources that relate to their innovation goals. We focus on modules that dive deep into design thinking, sustainable invention principles, business modeling, intellectual property protection, and commercialization. At the end of the three-month intensive program,the benefits go beyond creating a viable product but build confidence that each student is and will always be an innovator.
Our goal has always been to empower students everywhere to see themselves as inventors. We like to say that innovation lives in every zip code across Oregon and we can’t wait to meet the next generation of Oregon college innovators that will answer our annual challenge.
The continuation and expansion of Invent Oregon has been possible due to the generous support of our sponsors.
The Lemelson Foundation, Business Oregon, The Oregon Community Foundation, The Ford Family Foundation, Stoel Rives, Horan Mediatech Advisors, and Wells Fargo.
InventOR Alumni has filed for 4 patents and launch 7 business
What can you build in 90 days? With only $2500?
“Innovation starts not with an idea but with the knowledge and confidence that your idea has power. We strive to make a place where college innovators can gain confidence and access that set them up for a lifetime of success.”
Juan Barraza —
Director, Student Innovation
Portland State University Center of Entrepreneurship
Over the course of three months teams from across the state of Oregon come together to learn from and support each other during an intensive to take their idea from paper to reality.
With mentorship and support provided by faculty at two dozen colleges and universities, Invent Oregon works with students to prototype and fine-tune their ideas while developing a business plan and creating a pitch to investors. Participating teams receive a $2,500 prototyping grant to fund the process. Some teams have reached this stage after competing in local or university-based competitions, while others apply to represent their college. Each coming with an idea that will make an impact; may that be in green tech or accessibility designs.
Each year teams are invited to participate in a weekend long intensive bootcamp covering topics that not only help them with the competition but also set in place a solid foundation for entrepreneurial exploration. This year the format was shifted to a month-long virtual model. Workshops were held on weekends with independent learning modules released weekly. While Invent Oregon is a prototyping competition, the bootcamp also covers pitch creation and coaching, storytelling, intellectual property education and legal consultation, along with additional modules about funding and investment. Teams work with mentors and subject matter experts to explore not only the progress of their innovation but how to move into the Start-up world.
Students come into the competition at different levels and with unique goals, while some are already walking down the path to forming a Start-up, many come looking to gain exposure and experience. Invent Oregon aims to match each team with mentors and experts that can meet their specific needs and have the right backgrounds to provide guidance. They work through ideation, testing, and materials sourcing while dealing with failures and setbacks to showcase their progress and findings.
While balancing classes, jobs, and families the Invent Oregon participants also manage the schedules of teammates to move progress forward. Unique to this year’s competition was the geographical separation of many teams. They all began to master distanced co-working, not only via the bootcamp and advising but also for the live finals. In past years teams were given the opportunity to speak one on one with judges in an exhibition style format. For the 2021 finals the spotlight was on, pitching to the judging panel and answering questions live. All of these new formats will serve to prepare the next generation of Invent Oregon entrepreneurs for the changing world.
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 —
Assistant Program Manager
Portland State University Center of Entrepreneurship
FROM CONCEPT TO
IN 90 DAYS
The Invent Oregon Collegiate Challenge helps Oregon college and university students take their concepts from idea to reality.
Selected teams receive $2,000 development grants to build their concepts taking them from idea to reality.
Virtual weekly coaching sessions help teams review prototype design and development with pitch coaching
and guest lectures.
Each team is matched with a mentor who provides industry experience and guidance throughout the competition.
All teams participate in two full-day workshops, where we explore design thinking, business plan development, pitch coaching and funding options post competition.
USING THE POWER
Every day, on any Oregon campus, you can find a student with an idea that has the potential to change the world. The student is trying to figure out how to build it, and how to take it to market, but their likelihood of success depends on factors they might not be thinking about: how to build a team, build a prototype, navigate the pathway to commercialization, and find
access to resources.
Colleges & Universities
Each year the Invent Oregon Collegiate Challenge finals showcase the hard work of some of Oregon best and brightest. They take on setbacks and celebrate victories to bring the unexpected to judges. The past academic year was no exception, the students competing in the 2021 finals became masters in adaptability.
The 58 students representing 13 Oregon Colleges were given the opportunity to showcase their progress to a much broader audience this year. Each team prepared an in-depth presentation for judges and an investor style pitch to be presented live during the broadcast tuned in by more than 950 people.
Joining the broadcast was Lisa Gelobter the founder of tEQuitable presenting a keynote about the way minority voices are being seen and heard in the tech world. She was joined by Kara Miller from Public Radio International and the host of Innovation Hub for a Q&A. Students were also treated to a chat between Senator Ron Wyden and Lemelson Foundation Executive Director Carol Dahl, talking about the pressing issues facing Oregon Entrepreneurs.
Invent Oregon 2021 Grand Prize Winner
InventOR has provided my dream a platform for growth and development into the future that I am extremely eager for.
Hanna Wolf - Electerro
Invent Oregon 2021 Finalist
The InventOR competition was the first time I stepped into the world of innovation and entrepreneurship. Following through and creating a physical prototype from one of my ideas gave me so much confidence.
Cesar Navarrete - Exo Hand
Rogue Community College