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.

bestfest16“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 which 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.

dchomepage_0The 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 at / 503-689-5638 or Angela Jackson, Director of the PSU Center for Entrepreneurship at / 503-319-5875.