07:06 AM
Dawn Kawamoto
Dawn Kawamoto

Silicon Forest Provides Fertile Ground For Startups

Oregon's startups are increasingly garnering attention from venture capitalists and support from government agencies. Here's a look at a few.

(Image: AndreyGatash/iStockphoto)

(Image: AndreyGatash/iStockphoto)

When it comes to the tech landscape in the US, Silicon Valley lies to the west and Silicon Alley to the east. But those areas are not the only high tech hubs attracting entrepreneurs. In the Pacific Northwest, Oregon's Silicon Forest is showing signs of being fertile ground for startups.

Over a four-year stretch, venture capital in Oregon has steadily grown, soaring to $226 million in 2015 -- 20% over the previous year, the Oregonian notes.

The cities in the greater Portland area are throwing their support to funding-challenged startups with the hopes of possibly creating the next Facebook or Google to help drive economic development and their communities at large.

The city of Beaverton, for example, partnered with the startup incubator Oregon Technology Business Center (OTBC) to form the Beaverton $100K Startup Challenge last year. Later this year it will begin to accept applications for the 2017 class.

In 2013, the city of Portland launched its Startup PDX Challenge through the Portland Development Commission (PDC) with the aim of creating economic activity in a portion of the city. The challenge provides a monetary award of up to $25,000, along with free rent and free professional services for one year.

Applications for the next PDX Challenge are expected to be available later this year. The contest is open to any startup in the nation that is willing to relocate to Portland for at least a year and work in the provided free office space, Katherine Krajnak, senior industry liaison with the PDC and program manager for the PDX Challenge, told InformationWeek.

[See 10 Signs You're Not Cut out to Work at a Startup.]

The challenge, which seeks technology and consumer product startups, usually generates approximately 100 to 150 applications. With the help of members from the Portland startup community, accelerators, incubators, investment firms, and businesses, a group of judges will narrow the field down to 40 startups, followed by another cut to about 20 semi-finalists.

These semi-finalists will be interviewed, and six startups will be the ultimate winners, Krajnak explained.

Since its 2013 launch, the Startup PDX Challenge has made efforts to ensure its pool of applicants include under-represented minorities and women entrepreneurs by doing outreach to community groups and organizations, Krajnak said.

A total of 18 teams have been declared winners since the challenge started, and only one of those startups has closed. Two of the companies were acquired, and another two are close to closing a funding round worth about $800,000 each, she noted.

Some past winners of the Startup PDX Challenge note the program provided the boost their startup needed. Here is a look at a few of the winners and where they are now.

Editor's Note: This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Brady Sieg's name and to clarify NoAppFee's aspiration to power a website for low-income housing for Portland.

Dawn Kawamoto is an Associate Editor for Dark Reading, where she covers cybersecurity news and trends. She is an award-winning journalist who has written and edited technology, management, leadership, career, finance, and innovation stories for such publications as CNET's ... View Full Bio

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