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Business Oregon
Nathan Buehler
Marketing Mgr
Email; 503-689-3559

September 7, 2016 Media Contact
Nathan Buehler 503-689-3559

Oregon Launches Initiative to Support Collegiate Student Inventors

The state of Oregon announced a new initiative to encourage young inventors and entrepreneurship in colleges and universities this week, called "InventOR."

Recognizing the innovative work of collegiate inventors competing at PSU Clean Tech Challenge at OMSI and Oregon BEST FEST, Business Oregon will partner with The Lemelson Foundation and the Portland State University Center for Entrepreneurship to support regional invention competitions with colleges and universities around Oregon. The contest will culminate into a statewide competition in Fall 2017.

"This initiative encourages the creativity of students in higher education to think up new innovative products and services," said Business Oregon director Chris Harder. "Particularly in our smaller institutions and community colleges around the state, we want to encourage entrepreneurship that leads to the next generation of Oregon innovators."

The InventOR model is based on the PSU Clean Tech Challenge competitions led over the past several years by the PSU Center for Entrepreneurship. The goal for InventOR is to inspire and support invention statewide, starting with Oregon students.

"PSU is honored to join with our state's economic development leaders and the visionary Lemelson Foundation to inspire all Oregon college students to solve real-world problems and make an impact through invention," said PSU President Wim Wiewel. "We feel a particular sense of urgency and duty as Oregon's urban research university serving a high concentration of our states' minority and first-generation college students."

Higher education institutions will be eligible to apply for funding and training to create local InventOR cohorts and competitions. Successful local student inventors from those cohorts will be eligible to compete in the statewide InventOR competition with $50,000 in awards. Hardware-based inventions that solve important societal problems and address pressing community needs are eligible.

Business Oregon will request proposals from higher education institutions all over the state to become InventOR campuses. In order to qualify as an InventOR campus, institutions must have high-level institutional support, an identified project lead, access to on-site or nearby prototyping equipment, and have identified areas of applied research or special interest.

The Lemelson Foundation is supporting this statewide invention competition in alignment with its mission 'to use the power of invention to improve lives, by inspiring and enabling the next generation of inventors and invention-based enterprises to promote economic growth in the US.' The Foundation's Oregon regional focus emphasizes strengthening efforts to support a statewide invention ecosystem.

"Student inventors are essential to the success of Oregon's future economy," said Carol Dahl, Executive Director of The Lemelson Foundation. "By inspiring students to look critically at problems in our state and beyond, inventing solutions that can turn into successful businesses, we can ensure that great ideas make it into the marketplace. The Lemelson Foundation is excited to partner with Business Oregon and Portland State University on this great new initiative."

For more information on the program, please visit, or contact Mark Brady, Innovation Strategist with Business Oregon, 503-689-5638; or Angela Jackson, Director of the PSU Center for Entrepreneurship, 503-319-5875.

Business Oregon, the state's lead economic development agency, works to create, retain, expand and attract businesses that provide sustainable, living-wage jobs for Oregonians through public-private partnerships, leveraged funding, and support of economic opportunities for Oregon companies and entrepreneurs.

The Lemelson Foundation uses the power of invention to improve lives, by inspiring and enabling the next generation of inventors and invention-based enterprises to promote economic growth in the US, and social and economic progress for the poor in developing countries. Established by prolific US inventor Jerome Lemelson and his wife Dorothy in the early 1990's, and lead by the Lemelson family, to date the Foundation has provided or committed more than $185 million in grants and Program-Related Investments in support of its mission.

PSU and the Center for Entrepreneurship
Portland State University (PSU) is Oregon's urban research university, recognized for excellence in sustainability and community engagement. It is located in the heart of downtown Portland, with the motto "Let Knowledge Serve the City." PSU offers more than 200 degrees with opportunities to work with businesses, schools and organizations on real-world projects. The PSU Center for Entrepreneurship (CE) catalyzes and promotes student and faculty innovation through programs, community connections and startup incubation. It has hosted the PSU Cleantech Challenge presented by Wells Fargo for four years, bringing college and university students from around the state together to build prototypes that address solutions to energy and environment challenges.