Oregon college students take their invention from idea to working prototype, fostering the next generation of Oregon innovators
PORTLAND, Ore — Every day on college campuses, students have innovative ideas with the potential to change the world. What they don’t have, are resources. That’s where Invent Oregon (InventOR) comes in.
"InventOR fosters the innovation and entrepreneurial talent of Oregon college students, giving them a pathway to explore design thinking, sustainable invention principles, business modeling, and intellectual property protection,” said Rob Schneider, executive director, The Lemelson Foundation. “Students develop inventions that bring positive change to our communities – filling the pipeline of Oregon entrepreneurs.”
InventOR is an annual competition helping Oregon college students at all levels take their original concept from idea to reality. Students are supported by their colleges and the program to build a prototype solution around our world’s most imminent problems. Each team receives $2,500 in development grants to advance their prototype, vying ultimately for $30,000 in prize money.
“The inventions students come up with are incredible – and needed in today’s society,” said Juan Barraza, director of student innovation at the Portland State University Center for Entrepreneurship. “The mentoring and resources from InventOR help these young innovators take their invention to the next level, which might not otherwise be possible.”
Seventy-four percent of students who competed in 2021 say InventOR helped them gain access to resources and make valuable connections to help further their prototype. Previous InventOR teams have been successful with filing patents, launching products, and starting businesses. Former winners such as Safe Start, Nexgarden, Printed Pet Prosthetics, and ProduceMate are currently in various stages of business formation and commercialization.
Rogue Community College will be hosting this year’s finals at their Grants Pass campus. “The impact has been remarkable. The students that participate at InventOR find their passion for innovation and entrepreneurship, and they walk away with a group of mentors and resources that will follow them for their entire life,” said Dr. Cathy Kemper-Pelle, president of Rogue Community College. “We are looking forward to seeing Oregon college innovators at our campus this coming June.”
Forty student teams from 20 partnering colleges and universities are expected to participate in the competition this year. At the final competition in June, students will pitch their invention and showcase their prototype to an independent committee of judges.
InventOR is made possible with the support of sponsors including The Lemelson Foundation, which helps increase access to invention education and entrepreneurship programs for high-impact inventions. Lemelson helped launch the competition in 2016 and continues to lend programmatic and financial support.
In addition to support from The Lemelson Foundation, InventOR is sponsored by Business Oregon, Oregon Community Foundation, The Ford Family Foundation, Horan MediaTech Advisors, The Roundhouse Foundation, Stoel Rives, Wells Fargo, and Portland State University. The state final competition also receives support from local businesses in the host organization’s region.
Invent Oregon is an exciting competition for college and university students with ideas for inventions to address today’s most pressing problems. Invent Oregon was started in 2016 by the Portland State University Center for Entrepreneurship. The competition grew from just a handful of competing institutions to a truly statewide program with 20 institutions - from private universities to community colleges - participating from across the state. With the Invent Oregon program, students are empowered through mentorship and education to see themselves as innovators and entrepreneurs. More information can be found at Invent Oregon.