SOREDI Spotlight on Innovative Internet

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By Abigail Skelton
Project Manager

In late 2019, SOREDI (Southern Oregon Regional Economic Development Inc.) and numerous partner agencies participated in the creation of a robust and updated regional strategy for the benefit of all Southern Oregon. One of the tactics outlined in this One Rogue Valley Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS, 3.4) is: Support expanded technical education and higher education programming, especially for in-demand fields, such as healthcare, high tech, and engineering.

SOREDI is proud to highlight some of the region’s innovative thinkers who are bringing expanded technical education to beautiful Southern Oregon. 

In the past academic year, Southern Oregon University (SOU) in Ashland became one of the first schools in the nation to launch an esports (pronounced e-sports) minor—which not only provides an opportunity for students to enjoy competition, but also to learn ethics, psychology, and organization in the video gaming world. Esports (not to be confused with ‘exports’) refers to organized, multiplayer video game competitions, usually between professional players or teams. The activity originated in the 1970s and today is a billion-dollar industry reflected around the globe. As with traditional sports, esports players train, employ coaches, and are professionally traded among teams. By offering esports as a minor, it is the University’s hope that some of the students who might otherwise skip school to practice esports can maintain their chance to compete—while still pursuing their higher education.

Last year, Rogue Community College (RCC) was part of InventOR, a statewide competition in which college and university students can pitch their invention ideas—and compete for $30,000 in cash prizes. Two local students, Cesar Naverette and Landon Hunter, received attention for an exoskeletal hand invention which could be used to protect industrial workers from painful aliments like carpal tunnel. “I used to work in irrigation and as a plumber, and after years of doing that, I was having issues gripping stuff,” said Naverette in an interview with Jonathan Stull. With the ‘Exohand,’ which attaches to the forearm and uses a pneumatic grip to apply 160 pounds per square inch of force, the inventors hope that such a tool could be used to prevent hand injuries—which are often severely expensive to treat. In June of 2022, the statewide final for InventOR will commence—in Southern Oregon! RCC is honored to host the competition and welcome inventors from across the state to the Redwood Campus in Grants Pass. The college also invites guests to attend and see the creative ideas of today’s students. 

SOREDI is committed to championing a business-friendly region by helping companies and entrepreneurs launch, relocate, and prosper. SOREDI coordinates startup pitch contests and industry tours, publishes business profiles, facilitates business conferences, and has a loan program which provides gap financing. If your business is seeking to grow or locate here, we look forward to assisting you with complimentary services. 

Please visit or call 541-773-8946.

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