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Kay Molkentin

Director for Entrepreneurship, Franz Center 

Salvador Orara

Director for Innovation

Franz Center

Pilots Venture Challenge

The Pilots Venture Challenge Competition is a premier business, social enterprise and invention competition hosted by the Franz Center for Leadership, Entrepreneurship, and Innovation at the University of Portland. Underwritten by generous donors to the University, the competition promotes experiential education about entrepreneurship and new business development by focusing on student-created, launched, and managed ventures. Students are provided with expert feedback on their plans and presentations, as well as the opportunity to apply for funding to help launch their ventures if they wish to pursue them.

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The accordion is a complicated instrument. But thanks to Ernesto Zurita, a rising senior in mechanical engineering at the University of Portland, the techniques and practice that it takes to master the accordion could become a hell of a lot more fun. Learn More



With so much attention being placed on the COVID crisis, it’s easy to forget that there are still significant and far-reaching medical problems that have nothing to do with the pandemic. But Ryan Jarvis will never forget the challenges of complicated medical treatment.

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A multipurpose tool for campers. Adam Babuka, TrailHungry’s team leader and inventor of the UKA, was inspired by his time living out of a backpack while doing relief work in third-world countries.

Night Guard


Team Night Ranger came up with the idea for a motion detector for backpackers that will alert them to any intruders in their campsite with flashing lights and loud buzzes. As you can imagine, the idea came from a real-world experience deep in the woods, and they quickly realized that be it bears, humans, or the boogey man — night time fears are shared among many backpackers.

Produce Mate


Produce Mate developed a silicone mat that deters the growth of produce-damaging bacteria resulting in longer shelf life for fruits and vegetables. The Produce Mate team was led by Dagan Kay, a philosophy student and experienced business owners David Kay and John Underwood.



TrailHungry developed a multipurpose water filtration and backpacking infrastructure unit for use by aid workers and recreation enthusiasts alike. The TrailHungry team was made up of University of Portland MBA students Theodore B. Babuka and Adam E. Babuka.

Atlas Showlders


Atlas Shoulders designed a new postage system that allows for the shifting of weight and balance, offering easier portaging of canoes and kayaks. The team was led by Thomas Manfredonia and Ben Murphy, mechanical engineering students at the University of Portland.

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