Women's Innovation Network

Fewer than 11% of university start-ups have a female founder or co-founder. Women submit 35-40% fewer invention disclosures than their male peers. Women-led startups received a mere 2.3% of venture capitalist funding during the pandemic, and Portland-area women founders earned only 1.6% of VC funding in the first quarter of 2021.

The Women’s Innovation Network (WIN) contributes to the conversation to change these realities.

This nine-month, cross-disciplinary program helps UO faculty, researchers, students, and entrepreneurs in our community build skills that minimize gender-based barriers to success in innovation so that they can bring their research to market or launch and sustain their businesses. WIN is a collaborative effort between the UO and Onward Eugene.

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WIN’s monthly seminars, social events, and mentor networks remove specific barriers faced by faculty and entrepreneurs. Our seminars are hosted by Onward Eugene in the heart of downtown at 942 Olive St.

  • Barrier: Lack of Industry Connections
    • WIN’s Approach: We foster long-term relationships among participants, mentors, and industry leaders. We also offer access to leaders in company formation, fundraising, business pitches, grants, rhetoric and pragmatics, and public-private partnerships.
  • Barrier: Gender-based Differences in Perspectives
    • WIN’s Approach: We help participants build skills to address the gender-based differences in perspectives on risk, readiness, and language use.
  • Barrier: Lack of Familiarity with Commercialization and Entrepreneurial Pipelines
    • WIN’s Approach: We prepare participants to enter an incubator or accelerator and/or engage with private industry through partnerships and collaborations.
  • Barrier: Unfunded Obligations
    • WIN’s Approach: We provide funding to compensate participants ($2,000 per participant) for their time and energy in the program, thereby reducing the amount of their unfunded obligations.

Key Features of WIN

  • Nine-month program, October 2021 - June 2022
  • Each month includes a one-hour social event related to the monthly topic (attendance highly encouraged), two-hour seminar (attendance mandatory), and one-hour small-group mentor call (attendance mandatory).
  • Seminars are open to the public and will be held virtually October, November, and December. Events in 2022 will be held in-person in Eugene, Oregon.
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WIN Monthly Seminar Schedule

October 2021


Panel discussion with industry leaders sharing their experiences as women in innovation spaces

- Meet cohort members and mentors

November 2021

Take a Deep Breath: Building a Business is a Process

Presenter: Judy Giordan, Co-Founder Chemical Angel Network; Managing Director, ecosVC

- Learn about the process of building a business

December 2021

Making Connections

Presenter: Julie Sykes, Director, CASLS

- Making genuine, authentic connections

- How, when, and how often do you ask for help?

January 2022

Telling Your Story

Presenters: Charla Triplett, CEO, Spine by Design

Kate Petcosky, Director of Strategic Research Initiatives, Research Development Services

- How to tell a story about your work and your idea

- Developing your business pitch, writing grants, and talking across domains

February 2022

Company Formation

Presenter: Katherine Moyer, Hershner Hunter

- Examine various options for company formation: LLC? B-corp? C-corp? 501(c)(3)?

- Discussion of spin outs, startups

March 2022

Intellectual Property Landscape

Presenter: Christine Gramer, Senior Technology Development Associate, Innovation Partnership Services

- Maintaining collaborative spirit while protecting intellectual property

- Learn about patents, copyrights, trademarks, and other IP disclosures

April 2022

Taking Risks

Presenter: Caroline Cummings, Founder & CEO, Varo Ventures

- Know your strengths and get out of your comfort zone

May 2022

Investment & Funding Options

Presenter: Ariel Ruben, Rural Venture Catalyst, Oregon RAIN

- Identify potential sources of capital

- Learn what inspires investors to fund you

- Practice mini-presentations on who you are, what your idea is, what you can offer, and what you need

June 2022

Next Steps & Community Celebration

Presenters: Caitlin Vargas, Startup Community Director, Onward Eugene

Brittany Quick-Warner, President & CEO, Eugene Chamber

- Where do you go from here? What resources are available to you?