RAIN Eugene celebrates third graduating class, prepares to move into new building downtown

More than 400 people attended the graduation of Regional Accelerator and Innovation Network (RAIN) Eugene’s third class of startup companies this month. The graduation included the first "State of the Startup Ecosystem Address," and highlighted the interest around Oregon’s startups and the tech sectors.

RAIN was established in 2013 by the Oregon Legislature (Senate Bill 241) with the support of the Lane County delegation, including State Senators Lee Beyer (D-Springfield) and Chris Edwards (D-North Eugene, West Eugene, Santa Clara, Junction City), State Representatives Nancy Nathanson (D-Eugene), Val Hoyle (D-Eugene & Junction City), and John Lively (D-Springfield). It brings together community, business, and university resources in the southern Willamette Valley with the goal of supporting innovation, as well as creating businesses and well-paying jobs. Eugene RAIN helps link participating startups and businesspeople with mentors, entrepreneurs, and students in business, journalism, and law at the UO.

Since its launch, RAIN Eugene has helped 25 companies, created nearly 42 jobs, raised $4.5 million through grants, equity and debt, and generated revenues of $715,093. The next big step for the accelerator will be moving into its new home in the innovation hub at 942 Olive Street.  The collaborative space next door to Lane Community College’s downtown campus houses the UO’s Tyler Invention Greenhouse and the UO Product Design program. Program directors say the synergistic relationship between the three occupants of the 12,800-square-foot space will mean greater cross-pollination between students, entrepreneurs, researchers and others engaged in innovation activities.

As a contribution to the accelerator, the City of Eugene gave the UO the 12,800-square-foot building for $1. The UO is spending close to $3 million to renovate the structure, which is scheduled to open in May.