In January, we hosted the QuackHack, a gaming hackathon. 118 college students participated from 6 states, 14 universities and representing 16 different majors. Over 100 high school students, community & business leaders also engaged in the weekend-long event.
In collaboration with the Technology Association of Oregon (TAO), we had a successful Experience Oregon Tech event. We loaded 50 students on a bus and took them to three of Eugene’s hottest tech firms, where they met with founders and employees and learned about local employment opportunities. With TAO, we’ve also co-sponsored and participated in the The Big Mix (a crowdfunding event focused on Kickstarter), Hack for a Cause (a socially-oriented hackathon in Eugene) and Technology and the Arts Downtown (TAD).
We launched five University Innovation Fellows. These students — both undergraduates and graduates from chemistry, human physiology, product design and business — took a course through Stanford’s “epi.center” that covered topics such as team building, creativity, and assessing an innovation ecosystem. In March, the Fellows traveled to Silicon Valley to collaborate with their counterparts at universities across the country while visiting leading companies like Google and SAP.
Meanwhile, another group of students attended SXSW, where they heard from acclaimed international business founders, inventors and technology leaders, including SXSW Featured Speaker Ryan Hoover (’09 UO business alum).
We launched a new program, Spark Grants, that provides students with $500 to build test their startup’s core assumptions in a short four-week period. Two-dozen teams applied and we selected eight recipients, representing a wide range of majors and both undergraduates and graduates.
In April, we hosted the 25th annual New Venture Championship in Portland, one of the longest-running and most-prestigious business plan competitions in the world.
The month of May brings our RAINmaker Award competition ($5,000 for student startups), the Cleantech Challenge(coordinated by PSU), the Civil War Shark Tank pitch competition between UO and OSU, and other events.
Of course, the biggest event of the Spring is opening of the new UO building at 942 Olive, which will house the RAIN Eugene Accelerator, the Tyler Invention Greenhouse, and Product Design. The grand opening celebration is May 10.
— Andrew Nelson, Executive Director, RAIN @UO