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Tech firms invited to show off problem-solving capabilities at Greater Portland Tech Challenge

Tech Challenge with PGE large scaled

PORTLAND, OR – Greater Portland Inc and the Technology Association of Oregon are recruiting tech firms for the second annual Greater Portland Tech Challenge.

The event, presented by Portland General Electric, is an opportunity for tech companies to use smart-cities thinking to tackle a wide range of challenges throughout the region. This year’s Tech Challenge invites firms to partner with public agencies to develop solutions to a range of challenges with equity and inclusivity as a central theme. The event will be held Feb. 27 at Daimler Trucks North America. 

“By putting public agencies and private firms together in a rapid-fire pitch environment, we explore some of the region’s most interesting problems,” said Lloyd Purdy, vice president of regional competitiveness at Greater Portland Inc. “It allows firms to get to the meat of the challenges right away, and it enables agencies to harness our region’s pool of problem-solving tech talent. This is a win-win situation built on public-private partnerships.”

The Tech Challenge’s unique approach enables firms to work with the public sector in ways they otherwise wouldn’t. Each agency has 3-4 minutes to state a challenge. Firms have 3-4 minutes to pitch their potential solution or problem solving capacity. Then, agencies and firms meet for one-on-one consultations. Finally, agencies announce which company they would like to continue working with on a demonstration or pilot project. The teams continue work on those projects for seven months.

The inaugural Tech Challenge brought together 9 agencies and 9 tech firms to workshop mobility solutions. This year’s event focuses on a wider range of challenges with an equity/inclusivity lens for smart cities problem solving.

This year, the Tech Challenge features 11 agencies pitching different challenges. Here are four examples:

  • Oregon State University Extension Service: Develop an open data system to link new and existing weather stations and to identify microclimates within Polk County.
  • Portland Bureau of Transportation: Develop an app and/or web interface to deliver digital rider passes for the region’s various transportation providers in real time.
  • City of Vancouver and RYD: Develop an app that enables downtown Vancouver employees and visitors from diverse socio-economic backgrounds to hail RYD, a nonprofit electric vehicle shuttle service.
  • City of Independence: Create a simple, low-cost method for determining the location and severity of leaking sewer pipes.

Ryan Cook, director of strategic operations at Mapillary, a mapping technology company, said last year’s Tech Challenge gave his company a valuable look at the region’s practical needs. Mapillary worked with the City of Hillsboro on a multi-month demonstration project.

“The Tech Challenge gives firms direct, detailed insight into the issues facing local leaders,” Cook said. “Local agencies gain a sense of the private sector’s capacity to address those challenges.”

Skip Newberry, president and CEO of the Technology Association of Oregon, said the Greater Portland Tech Challenge highlights the problem-solving capacity of this region’s public- and private-sector partners.

“This is a great model for tech firms and government agencies to pilot new projects,” he said. “We’re already seeing others in the region use this model as a blueprint, and that’s because it produces real results in a fraction of the time.”

Event information:

What: Greater Portland Tech Challenge
When: 9 a.m. – noon (pitch session), Feb. 27
Where: Daimler Trucks North America, 4555 N. Channel Avenue, Portland
More information or to apply: Visit our website or contact Lloyd Purdy.

Members of the media are invited to attend the pitch session. Please contact Anna Marum if you would like to attend. Photos from last year’s Tech Challenge are available here.

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