Colligan Challenge teaches design, entrepreneurship

Can you create the next killer app? Ed Colligan (UO ‘ 83), mobile technology pioneer and venture capital investor, is betting that a creative team of students at the University of Oregon will dream up the next mobile innovation.

Presented by the UO’s Office of the Vice President for Research & Innovation (OVPRI), the Colligan User Interface Design Challenge will ask students to design new user interfaces.

“I thought we could leverage the UO’s strengths in education, graphic design, product design, and psychology and bring them to a technology-oriented application in user interface design,” says Colligan, “Hopefully, we can build this into an area of expertise at the UO.”

This year, the competition will also feature a partnership with the Eugene node of the Regional Accelerator & Innovation Network (RAIN). The local branch, RAIN Eugene, operates an accelerator that provides mentorship, hands-on startup training, opportunities to interact with guest speakers, networking events, and a space to work.

“We’re really excited about the partnership RAIN this year,” says Ken Kato, associate director of the UO’s Infographics Laboratory and one of the organizers of the competition. “This connection between the Eugene startup community and the UO will provide a host new opportunities for our teams in the Colligan Challenge.”

These opportunities will include boot camps, market research sessions, and a pathway for the winning team(s) to participate in the accelerator program.

Participants from the first year of the competition have already seen some initial success and have secured internships at Amazon and the Motley Fool, won competitions sponsored by Adobe and Stanford University, and have met with regional investors in Portland to discuss their concepts.

“As a design student, I didn’t consider the business impact on the design process,” says Claire Sakaguchi, one of the finalists from the first year of the competition. After graduating from the UO in June, Sakaguchi held an internship in Amazon’s Concept Lab. “Participating in the Colligan Challenge taught me that distribution and marketing have an impact on the design of the product—something I took with me to my internship at Amazon.”

The competition is open to students from all majors and levels. Registration is open through Thursday, October 23. To learn more about Colligan User Interface Design Challenge, visit