Startup accelerator celebrates anniversary with national award

RAIN Eugene Accelerator
RAIN Eugene Accelerator

The Regional Accelerator and Innovation Network is celebrating its first anniversary with a national award.

The International Town and Gown Association recently named RAIN as one of three recipients of its inaugural ImpACT awards, which recognize leaders of innovative initiatives involving city and university partners. The University of Oregon is a key player in the state-backed economic development initiative.

Oregon RAIN was singled out in the economic development category of the awards for successfully promoting entrepreneurship in Oregon’s South Willamette Valley and Mid Coast region.

The Oregon RAIN network links innovation activity at the state’s leading research universities — the UO and Oregon State University — to the entrepreneurial community in surrounding cities to create high-growth, technology-based startup companies that can generate jobs and opportunities in the region.

Since launching a year ago, RAIN Eugene, the local branch of the statewide network, has graduated 16 startup companies through its accelerator program and has significantly assisted more than 30 other companies through introductions to investors, one-on-one advisory meetings and formal mentorship.

The last year has also seen the establishment of new seed capital in the Eugene-Springfield area to support local startups, including the formation of the University of Oregon Foundation Seed Fund and the start of the RAINMaker Seed Grants, sponsored by Paul Anthony Troiano, CEO of Rumblefish, Inc. and a UO alum.

The most recent class of startup companies graduated from the RAIN Eugene Accelerator on Wednesday, May 5, after pitching their business plans to the community at the Oregon Contemporary Theater in downtown Eugene. The eight companies graduating from the program include Bloxi, Cognitopia, Talint.co, eFormatter, LightDance, NemaMetrix, PACTS Consulting, and VoteOverIt.com.

In total, graduates from the RAIN Eugene Accelerator have created six full-time equivalent positions, generated over $100,000 in company revenue and attracted more than $1.6 million in follow-on capital since the first cohort of companies graduated in October 2014, just eight months ago. According to Joe Maruschak, director of the RAIN Eugene Accelerator, the program is continuing to build momentum as it plans for the next class of startups and prepares to move into downtown Eugene.

To learn more and to connect with local entrepreneurship community, visit the RAIN Eugene website or sign up for the Startup Eugene Newsletter.

—By Andrew Stiefel, Office for Research and Innovation