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Statewide Invention Competition Kicks Off for 2020

Finals Set for Rogue Community College in Medford

The 4th Annual Invent Oregon Collegiate Challenge will attract student innovators from across the state

Oregon’s only student invention prototyping competition, the Invent Oregon Collegiate Challenge (InventOR), is back for its fourth year, growing in size to 20 participating colleges and universities. Student teams from across the state will converge at the final round event on June 26 at Rogue Community College’s downtown Medford campus. Student invention prototypes will address challenges they see in their communities and teams will compete for more than $30,000 in cash prizes for the best and brightest ideas.

InventOR is managed by the Portland State University Center for Entrepreneurship which provides workshops for participating teams and coordinates access to mentors who help students fine tune their ideas, build a working prototype, and develop a business plan and sales pitch. Participating teams receive a $2,000 prototyping grant to fund the process of turning their ideas into a tangible reality.

“Rogue Community College is excited to be the first community college to host the finals of this statewide event in beautiful downtown Medford this June,” said Cathy Kemper-Pelle, Rogue Community College President. “We look forward to helping these inspirational and courageous inventors. We believe their innovations will contribute to a thriving future for Oregon.”

After starting with just five competing schools, InventOR has grown steadily year after year as more colleges and universities sign on to provide this unique, hands-on invention program to students. Institutions participating in this year’s competition include Clackamas Community College, Concordia University, Eastern Oregon University, George Fox University, Klamath Community College, Lewis & Clark, Linfield College, College, Oregon Health and Science University, Oregon Institute of Technology, Oregon State University, Portland Community College, Portland State University, Rogue Community College, Southern Oregon University, Southwestern Oregon Community College, University of Oregon, University of Portland, Warner Pacific College, and Western Oregon University.

“InventOR is seeding the next generation of Oregon Entrepreneurs” said Kate Sinner, innovation and entrepreneurship manager for Business Oregon, Oregon’s economic development department. “We see InventOR as the creative sandbox for Oregon college students to explore how to build innovative ventures that can scale and contribute to Oregon's economy."

InventOR is made possible with the support of sponsors including The Lemelson Foundation, which supports inventors making positive impact around the world. Lemelson helped launch the competition in 2016 and continues to lend programmatic and financial support.

“We’ve watched InventOR grow each year, providing more and more students the opportunity to experience the power of invention to change lives and to see themselves as inventors,” said Carol Dahl, Carol Dahl, executive director at the Lemelson Foundation. “It’s thrilling to see the statewide impact of students taking on problems they see in their own communities and creating opportunities for regional economic growth through invention and entrepreneurship. Invention is a driver of job creation and prosperity in Oregon and InventOR is a first step towards a new generation of great homegrown companies.”

In addition to The Lemelson Foundation, other InventOR sponsors include Business Oregon, Horan MediaTech Advisors, JAMA Software, Oregon Community Foundation, Oregon Lottery, Stoel Rives, and Wells Fargo

“What we love about InventOR is that it attracts the best and brightest ideas from across the state,” said Colleen Padilla, executive director of Southern Oregon Regional Economic Development Inc. (SOREDI). “We’re looking forward to getting our local entrepreneurs and business leaders involved as competition judges and audience members.”

Juan Barraza, director of student innovation at the PSU Center for Entrepreneurship, oversees the InventOR program and has seen the impact it has on student lives.

“We are in the business of empowering students to see a problem in their community, come up with a solution, and turn that solution into a reality,” Barraza said. “This is something they won’t necessarily learn in the classroom but it will contribute a tremendous amount to their success as students.”

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